On Monday, we covered a talk by Robert Scoble (pictured bottom) about how Google will get “its butt kicked” by companies like Facebook, Mahalo and Techmeme. We were charitable in our coverage, saying his point about using personal filters (via the “social graph) to remove spam was a solid one, though we mentioned a few big caveats.
Search expert Danny Sullivan (pictured top left) has responded to Scoble’s argument, however, and tears it to shreds. Sullivan is as lucid as anyone when it comes to search (see profile in USA Today), and we’ve been following him closely for years as a result. We’ve never seen him as worked up about something as he is in this post. Get past the emotion, though, and you’ll center on a core paragraph (see below) summing up how Google is responding to new personalized and social technologies. It’s a great piece, providing valuable insight into where search is, and where it is headed.
In particular, Google has been talking about how personalized search allows for creating personalized PageRank (and see here for a patent look), a way where rankings revolve around what you personally like. It’s not a hard leap to extend that into a “social network PageRank” model, where if you define a social network, the collective interests of that network could be used to model the rankings. Google’s not doing that now, but to suggest that the mechanism are somehow impossible from either a company attitude or technological model is simply being ignorant of Google.