In what some may see as a matter of semantics, Google has made a shift in how they name positions internally with the word search being replaced by the term knowledge. When I first read this I wanted to dismiss it but on second thought that would be pretty hard to do since Google makes almost all its money from search.
So why this shift in terminology from the search engine giant? It could be that the Larry Page era is truly about taking Google beyond the current confines of being just a search company. They have been trying this for a while with various product introductions and little if any true success especially in the area of social. Maybe the shift in titles is about a sea change in the organization to not think search first?
Michael Arrington of TechCrunch reports
Leadership of Google search, like most other Google products, was previously split between Marissa Mayer as product lead and Udi Manber as engineering lead. Late last year Mayer moved over to run Local. Alan Eustace now runs the group, and Manber reports to him. There’s a single leader of the group, and he reports to Page.
Page, say our sources, has for a long while been thinking of search as much more than Google’s original mission to “organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” His goal is about more than organizing that information, though. It’s also about enhancing people’s understanding and facilitating the creation of knowledge.
Ok, that sounds reasonable. After all, search really is about knowledge acquisition no matter how silly that knowledge is. Helping people truly use and apply the newly acquired knowledge is an interesting take.
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I suspect that Google is seeing what is really happening in the world of the social web and they are working to minimize the impact on their business. Their attempts at social have been so widely criticized and lampooned that they may be seeing that they will never be a real social player. The truth is, they may not need to be.
The idea that search is being supplanted by social is ridiculous. Search is always going to be valuable. Search will be influenced in some part by social signals but the idea of pure search is not going anywhere any time soon.
One of things that is most powerful about search is its almost anti-social nature. Do you really want to ask all of your friends all the time about everything you have questions about? The appearance of anonymity and privacy in search (emphasis on appearance) is one of the most important aspects of it. A person can search without worrying what others might think or know.
Oh and what about those crazy souls that want to advance themselves beyond their existing social circle’s knowledge base? Search is the way for someone to expand beyond where they currently are and beyond the limitations of the existing group of contacts they have. Let’s face it, we give other people way too much credit in the social realm for knowing more than they do. We throw around terms like expert as if it were a common occurrence and in the process practically devalue to term. If anyone is directly equating being social with getting smarter then you are limiting growth potential in a huge way.
It will be interesting to see how this kind of seemingly subtle shift in terminology impacts how Google looks at itself and its world from here on out. Just think about what they are saying by removing their bread and butter term (search) from the title of the person overseeing that operation.
The winds are shifting a bit and it’s a good idea to pay close attention.