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Vote for Google!

Google is the lidless eye. Ever watchful of our very mortal acts & deeds. Under its gaze, no deed, fair or foul, goes unseen. But for all its industry and penetrating scrutiny, what this eye sees lacks feeling. Without feeling, there’s little or no social context.

And this lack of sensitivity to sociability is an open wound for Google, one being probed by others, to their benefit:

“A previous iteration (from 2001) of the Google Toolbar had an intriguing functionality that at the time no one thought much of: voting a site up or down (via smiley face or frowning face).”

I don’t use Google Tool Bar, so I have to take their word for this, however:

“I noted the obvious, that this functionality was identical to StumbleUpon’s thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote, but also that it was odd that Google would lack the foresight to see the social implications (or potential) of this feature (not only as used by StumbleUpon but it was also similar in many ways to Digg with the up or down vote for a site).”

And I don’t use StumbleUpon, either! But, what I can see is a chance gone begging for Google, and fortunately, Mr. M.G Siegler opens things up for us quite neatly:

“There is no question that Google has a wealth of data at their disposal for this service thanks to their Personalized Search queries, but Google lacks the community-aspect of StumbleUpon (the most important aspect of the service). After downloading and testing out the button, my fears were confirmed. Google is doing nothing more than using your search history to feed you sites it thinks you will find interesting. The problem is that many people don’t use Google to find stuff that is ‘interesting’ to them, but they conduct work-related/school-related searches.”

Really puttin’ the personal into Google!

Yesterday, I wrote about how Google’s new iGoogle hasn’t gone far enough. And the day before that, I talked up some Google future stuff, which was largely of my own imagination.

This time, Google didn’t hear the train coming .. and it’s gone straight by, leaving them at the station, too!

You see, here’s Google raking in all of this data, just as Mr Siegler mentions. Much of this data is tagged and associated with individuals. People like you & me, you know?

If you’ve got a Google Account, then Google know (sorry, see) what you’ve found.

If you’re making good use of your Search History, then Google knows what you value.

If you’re on Google Groups, chances are that you’ve voted on something, which adds even more value to the structure and the relative weighting of the content you’re making use of.

So with all this wealth of data, with contextual values associated with this data, Google should be able to stab at much better guesses as to what floats your boat. Sadly, that’s quite the case:

“For example, I live in San Diego .. what’s the first site that the Google … takes me to? The San Diego Zoo’s website. The 2nd site? San Diego’s AAA site. The problem is that these are sites that a computer algorithm thinks I want to see,…”

But how much better could this be if Google were to let people vote on what they find and then roll this new-found knowledge into their data?

How much more value would be added to the ‘best guess for thy nearest neighbor’ if voting one way or t’other was added into the mix?

Sure, there would be some serious opportunities for gaming the system with what I imagine to be outsourced ‘vote farms’, but that’s something I’m sure Google are big enough to deal with.

So vote with your clicks and let’s get Google to go social…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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