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From Lab to Beta: Google’s Social Search For All


It’s rare that Google gets trumped on news but with all the Apple iPad (insert your favorite disgusting nickname here) hoopla from yesterday the announcement that Google’s social search is now in beta for all to use kinda slipped by. After a little reading on the subject there may be a good reason for this. In other words, Google maybe didn’t want to make a big deal on this one. Read on to find out why.

The Official Google Blog announced the move with this

We think there’s tremendous potential for social information to improve search, and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface. We’re leaving a “beta” label on social results because we know there’s a lot more we can do. If you want to get the most out of Social Search right away, get started by creating a Google profile, where you can add links to your other public online social services.

They then give one of their nifty little videos to explain just what they are up to.

But the real concern is raised by John Batelle at his blog

Forget the iPad, today Google is taking another step toward its stated goal of “making search more social.” There’s a lot of goodness in here, in terms of features and approach, but it’s just silly to pretend you can do any of this without directly addressing the 400 million-person elephant in the room called Facebook. Put simply: I can’t figure out if this new service uses my Facebook social graph. And to my mind, that’s a problem.

Batelle then takes you through his attempts to see if, in fact, the Facebook social graph is incorporated in some fashion. You can follow his humorous attempts to see what he might be missing. He even digs around to find out what is truly going on with the social search for Google as it relates to Facebook and Google sent this to him:

“If someone links to his Facebook account from his Google profile, Social Search may surface that user’s public profile page. These are the same public profile pages already available on a search of Google.com and other search engines today. While we’re interested to continue expanding the comprehensiveness of Social Search, we do not currently use your Facebook connections as part of Google Social Search.”

This begs the question of just how social is social search for Google. Maybe Google’s ‘announcement’ of this service yesterday wasn’t a coincidence with regard to the timing of the iPad introduction to the world. Not including Facebook connections is a huge gap in this offering that makes one wonder just what is going on behind the scenes. Expect this beta tag to hang around for a while until this one is hashed out. Stay tuned.