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Search Results Based on Your Social Network 59

A new company, Delver, is offering a new take on web searching that plans to make your social network a part of the equation. "Liad Agmon, CEO of Delver, says that the site connects information about a user's social network with Web search results, "so you are searching the Web through the prism of your social graph." He explains that a person begins a search at Delver by typing in her name. Delver then crawls social-networking websites for widely available data about the user--such as a public LinkedIn profile--and builds a network of associated institutions and individuals based on that information. When the user enters a search query, results related to, produced by, or tagged by members of her social network are given priority. Lower down are results from people implicitly connected to the user, such as those relating to friends of friends, or people who attended the same college as the user. Finally, there may be some general results from the Web at the bottom."
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Search Results Based on Your Social Network

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  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:08PM (#22266674) Journal
    But my "social graph" doesn't begin to be represented by my name(s).

    I think this will just bias search results towards your friends who have the most free time, not necessarily the most informed or informative. I'm sure we all have that friend who thinks David Icke is right about the reptilians. Do you want his tagged sites at the top of every search you make related [stuff]?
    • by onion2k ( 203094 )

      I'm sure we all have that friend who thinks David Icke is right about the reptilians.

      I don't. In fact, I suspect they might all have been usurped by the evil blood-drinking Draco-ians. ... ... ...

      Wait, it's me isn't it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by davetd02 ( 212006 )
        This seems to take the concerns that people have about Google's aggregation of your data to a whole new level. Now they know not only what YOU like, but who your friends are and what THEY like too. It wouldn't be hard to make a map of the socialists, anarchists, anti-corporatists, etc, and then round them all up when there's a crime. I'm not saying that our society is anywhere near that level, but it seems to create a big risk of guilt-by-association.
        • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:25PM (#22266900) Journal
          Who would want to use a search engine that put the answers from the experts at the bottom and the answers they could easily get by asking their mom or their roommate at the top?

          Sounds pretty damned stupid if you ask me.
    • I don't know about you but my "social graph" doesn't begin to be represented by my name(s).
      Yeah, I'd imagine the John Smiths of the world will be largely unimpressed by this application...
  • God help the poor soul who happens to have the same name as a midget S&M porn star.
  • Terrible idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:11PM (#22266706) Homepage Journal
    This sort of searching will result in information from "opposing sides" of controversies or arguments being deprecated, resulting in skewed information being available--because people tend to associate themselves with other people of the same opinion.

    E.G., all my friends are emacs people, so the first results will favor emacs, and any vi-related articles will be deprecated. Other nontrivial examples can be extrapolated.

    This will merely serve to re-enforce any prejudice, bias, or slant that a person may have. Reading competing materials--seeing things that challenge one's own point of view--can only be healthy for one's point of view, rendering it much more cosmopolitan and much less insular than it would otherwise be.

    In short: this new search engine will be wildly popular amongst the type of person who enjoys violent flamewars, and will be useless for any person who wishes to consider both sides of a situation before forming an opinion. it's going to be an enormous success and if I had the cash I'd invest in it. :-/
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chysn ( 898420 )
      > this new search engine will be wildly popular amongst the type of person who
      > enjoys violent flamewars

      See, I think it would be wildly popular with people who avoid flamewars in favor of echo chambers.
    • by jo42 ( 227475 )
      Just imagine the search results if your "social graph" is Digg or MySpace...
    • . Reading competing materials--seeing things that challenge one's own point of view--can only be healthy for one's point of view
      That's an over-general statement just waiting for a counter example...
    • In principal, I agree with your reasoning, but in practice most humans will not give credibility to anything that falls outside of their range of beliefs. The result being vi-or-die content isn't considered by the emacs-rulez crowd anyway.

      Most people do not go out an intentionally re-evaluate their fragile, contradictory belief systems.

      In theory, the solution would return more relevant results than google because they agree with the person's views/opinions/etc. It would turn google into something of an "ac
    • I have to agree. I use search engines to tap into knowledge/opinions that are outside my sphere of friends. If I want to know what one or more friends thinks about a given topic/product/whatever I'll ask them directly.
    • definitely, we already see enough of that already. the promise of the internet was that people's eyes would be opened up to new opinions and ideas, but instead it seems like it's a tool to let you reach out and connect to people that think exactly like you no matter how unusual your viewpoint is. too many blogs and online communities have become an echo chamber for people to reinforce and strengthen their opinions without competing viewpoints, so it's no surprise that when there are actual multi-viewpoint
    • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

      all my friends are emacs people

      Funny, all my friends are vi pre-version 5.x people. I couldn't be friends with someone who uses vim 6.3, let alone vim 7.0! Death to the heretics!

      My overly subtle point being, people don't actually tend that much to associate themselves with other people of the same opinion, because too rarely does an opinion about something matter to the point it would determine who you're going to befriend or not with. Except in the case of hippies and religious freaks.

    • Such negativity. What's not to like about a ghetto for the narrow-minded, where flame-warriors can disappear up their own MySpace?

      The only downside is, if TFA is to be believed, this: "once a person builds a profile, he must log in to search, and that identity can no longer be used as a proxy."

      If I've read that right, unless you want your employer, spouse, child and/or stalker investigating whatever interests and opinions you may once have had, you'll need to build yourself a profile. But, after that, you w
  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:17PM (#22266798) Homepage Journal
    I'm thoroughly unlikely to use a system that ranks my search results based on the preferences of my friends. I know *I* never put anything but the most basic information about me online (name and website is all that's required by the Geneva Convention, right?). So anyone whose searches are based on *my* stated interests will find a bunch of Dixie Chicks stuff, and little else.

    And what about my searches based on *their* interests? Do I even *want* to know what they're doing with their time online? Even if the results aren't personalized ("Jim would probably like this link"), I'd rather not do a search on sushi restaurants [] and learn to my dismay that one or more of my friends has interests that include tentacle porn. And I don't even want to *think* about what could happen on a search for a good plate of cabrito []!
  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

    Seriously, can anyone see this being more pertinent than regular searches? I don't know about you people, but I don't necessarily have much in common with my few friends, so if a friend of mine is into Paris Hilton or international law that's not necessarily going to improve my search results in any good way.

    • I think it would be easier for stalkers and pedophiles to gain enough information from searched to find a point of contact. Especially if it remotely references the point or perspective in th results, IE "you might be interested in X because fiend Mya, myspace, liked unicorns and OMG ponies and so on". It could leave a trail for someone to follow to get a clear idea of where you live, where you hang out, or how often your with certain people who you have found the other information from.

      I dunno if this is a
    • it is actually an incredible way to target ads and spam- instead of just sending spam and ads to a huge unrelated audience you would be able to get targeted interests by targeted individuals to related targeted individuals- this could easily increase the likelihood that your "p3n1S_b1gg3R_n0W!" e-mail get's opened by making it into a more targeted title like: "rumors about celebrityX"or would allow you to customize advertisements based on their spider of related interests.
      yeah, as an enduser that really su
  • by merreborn ( 853723 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:22PM (#22266864) Journal
    "Sorry, I can't friend you, you'll screw up my search results"
  • Somebody already tried this, as I discovered during a patent search.

    Other weird search ideas included adjusting search preferences based on what other applications are running. If you seach for "gold", you get different responses depending on whether you're running Everquest or Excel.

    What's more likely to work is ad personalization based on your social network. If your friends bought something, then promoting it to you is a promising idea. That's been proposed as PriceKut [].

  • by NetSettler ( 460623 ) * <> on Friday February 01, 2008 @05:30PM (#22266960) Homepage Journal

    This kind of approach has the hidden danger that once you fall into a certain crowd, it's hard to dig your way out. It substantially increases the importance of choosing the right one because you might never climb out.

    Consider how many people think they are Democrats or Republicans just because their parents are. (Parents are just an example, so don't be too quick to say that parents aren't the chosen network. There will be some chosen network and unless its attributes are freely advertised, you'll be signing up to have things done for you in ways that are subtle and related to others you think you know. It might just as well be "those drug fiends you kids run around with".)

    Until the mid-1990's, I used to subscribe to paper magazines about technical topics. And I'd get a lot of junk mail from vendors offering me stuff. Increasingly, I found they talked about object-oriented programming and other topics I liked. At first, I thought all my topics were winning the hearts and minds of people. But after a while, I realized they had just pigeon-holed me as interested only in those topics. What started off as a benefit they were offering me was now a kind of Hell I had to live in... I'm sure there's some relevant Twilight Zone episode I should be referencing here, but you get my point.

    Freedom comes with choice. One reason that a lot of people don't like political primaries is that it limits choice. If you can control the primary process (which has traditionally gotten very little oversight--though this year probably got more than average), you have a great deal of control of the election. People focus on the election as the thing that can be tampered with, and they make a polite fuss about who gets invited to this and that debate, about who takes this and that money, about the price of media, and so on. But it's those things, not a few hanging chads in the vote itself, that probably really sway the election. The damage is already done by time you reach the voting booth.

    And what if everyone in the network is trusting everyone else, and no one is at the helm? Or what if someone deviates from the network--is that weighted low as anomalous or high as important that it wasn't statistically predicted and might signify something the group should peer at? I don't see leaving these questions to a search engine... I think people should retain this right and responsibility.

  • See subject. I'm depressed. :(
  • But this probably isn't it.

    Google uses a basic citation index, but as far as I know doesn't consider references, multiple generations of citation, references or citations, citations of references, duplication of citations/references (mirrors should not weigh as much as originals), credibility of sources (not sure how you'd measure that one) or proximity to known good results (the user could flag good results, which could then be mined by a search engine to improve the search terms). This method, basically

    • Probably not good as a primary mechanism, but as an option or something with a little infuence it would be quite useful.

      I know google has a whole host of algorithms merged to give its results, i can see this being useful as a lower level one, unfortunately i can never see this being CPU efficient, it means that instead of reading a database it has to personally search your web every time you search. I Would like to see it as an extra option tho!
  • Privacy? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So Google doesn't invade your privacy enough?

    I look forward to seeing what results it gives to "Jack Thompson -> animal porn" once it gets hacked/spammed, though.
  • Did you mean delvr? Results 1-10 of 12,000.
  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @06:01PM (#22267414)

    That would be cool if they used your friends and such to suggest you new people to become friends with, à la [], with people instead of music.

    Well to []. According to your Facebook profile, you recently "hooked up" with Sally, Michelle and Brandy. BETA suggests you to try to hook up with the following people : Stacy. Pam. Jeff.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by merreborn ( 853723 )

      That would be cool if they used your friends and such to suggest you new people to become friends with, à la [], with people instead of music.

      We've been arguing about that concept here at the office lately. I'm of the opinion that I don't care *who* has similar interests (the model), I just want to know *what* people with similar interests like (the model).

      Similarly, I like to think that a lot more goes into the decision of who I'd want to friend than can be divin

  • inside the box (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @06:14PM (#22267560) Homepage Journal
    That's exactly what most of the dumbasses who vote people like Bush into office need: A world-view tuned more to what and who they already know.

    Thanks for making sure they'll never be confronted with the world outside their small box.
    • That's exactly what most of the dumbasses who vote people like Bush into office need: A world-view tuned more to what and who they already know.

      What, you mean unlike the same sort of small world you live in where it's justifiable to call people who disagree with you dumb asses?

      I already see this narrow world-view with blogs. People blog about other blogs to the point that they seem to exist for no other reason than to justify their own beliefs.

      I'm not saying I agree with people who support Bush. And I do ag

      • by Tom ( 822 )

        What, you mean unlike the same sort of small world you live in where it's justifiable to call people who disagree with you dumb asses?

        And people who use cheap rhetorical overgeneralisations in order to make a point that ignores the original content, yes. :-)

        Like it or not, anyone who believes otherwise probably as a narrow-minded view of the world themselves.

        Totally. In fact, it's difficult to get other views, because very few organisations or groups even allow them in. The problem with automation is that it hides the filtering.

  • by Zadaz ( 950521 )
    I usually search the internet for things I don't already know. This seems like a really good way to keep me fenced into the stuff that I already know or that I've heard about from my friends.

    I'd much rather have a search tool that eliminated all social network information from it's database. Never in my life have I wanted to search for "What did Mike do last night?"
    • You miss the real power here. Just from the first page of your comments list there's probably 100 points that could be used to extrapolate what you like, give weight to other sites, the mod points given to each post as well as the ones you reply to would probably rate 200+ websites quite easily..

      If you also had an account on say Digg (don't flame me) then even without your UID the general "shape" of your profile would pick out.. as well as a thousand others in the same direction... it becomes broad and foc
    • And by keeping you mentally fenced in, you will be unable to think about why {insert oppressive regime here} is so bad.

      "The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible."

      George Orwell 1984

  • ... looking for a date at a family reunion.
  • will now be Tom from Myspace.
  • It is really smart to do something about the search results, since the traditional search engines tends to be too hooked up on spam pages. Real people can provide real opinions - but are they reliable? Initially: maybe not, but over time: definitely! And of course you trust your friends better than others, so it is a smart move. My company is also in the recommendation engine business, so we are dealing with this matter every day. And from what we have seen, the positive force usually wins in the end... Loo
  • Another piece of the search equation that we continue to think about within the enterprise and the collaboration software ( used by its community.

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