Wednesday, July 8, 2009

don't google it, facebook it

I'm reading: don't google it, facebook itTweet this!
I read in this month's Wired that Facebook wants to compete with Google. Insane, you might say. But what is the biggest problem with search engines? The trustworthiness of their results. The top Google returns, other than sponsored ones, have only been vetted by their algorithms. Wouldn't it be cooler to ask a friend? Other attempts have been tried- there's Cuil, which attempts to validate content using human readers, and the familiar Ask Jeeves and, and there was even one that promised a human response a while back. But who do you trust?

Maybe you don't trust that person who sat behind you in 3rd grade and shot spitballs at you either, but Facebook has a distinct advantage here. Many people use it as their homepage of sorts- messaging within it, and linking outside of it. On my blogs, at least 30% of readership comes from social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Digg. I only get about 200 readers a day right now, but my readership skyrocketed once I began posting stories to Facebook and Twitter. Admittedly, the majority of hits still come from Google Image Search, but maybe someone will read my review of Porky's after making an avatar out of that image of Ms. Ballbricker yanking the guy's johnson through a peephole!

With all the fan pages, Facebook is beginning to resemble my blogroll on Google Reader. At first I was dubious; isn't Facebook for kid pictures, stupid farm games and chuckling at Sgt. Lincoln Osiris's great fake page? I'm still more enamored of Twitter's lightweight, phone friendly profile, but there's no ignoring that Facebook's 200 million are a force to be reckoned with. With Facebook Connect- now battling with Google Friend Connect- it is linking with the outside web in ways it never did before. It's becoming a Passport of sorts. And I have a feeling they may actually win. As said in the Wired article- which is only in the magazine, and not online it seems- this is no longer the Internet where nobody knows you're a dog. And maybe we're better off.

I grew up with the anonymity of BBS chatrooms and silly monikers on usenet and forums, but as I get older and crankier, I see it more as troll heaven. It has its place in a world where free speech is still not free (costs a buck-0-five) but I find myself seeking the comfort of moderated forums more and more. Even Something Awful, with its tenbux-ocracy (if you get banned, it costs $10 to get back) manages to make a community of 50k+ self-proclaimed goons work somewhat. Sure, I was a bit miffed when Facebook clobbered my blog posts that had screenshots of '80s trash films with gratuitous boobies, and perhaps it needs to be improved a bit, to keep the under-18 crowd from ruining it for us adults. But the privacy tools are part of that. I have friends, bloggers, and coworkers. You can guess who sees the absolute least. Wouldn't it be great if you could manage Google this way?

So think about it. Facebook as the new search engine, eventually. Who vets the search results? You do. And you don't even know you're doing it, as it comes in the guise of clicking "I Like This" beneath a shared link. By the way, with the Networked Blogs app in facebook you can share your blog there. Mine are all there if you search for them. If you're a Facebook addict, subscribe to them over there. Just wait. Facebook turned down partnership with Google; let's see if they buy Twitter. Now that would be interesting.


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