The Evolution of Social Search

I recently had the pleasure of attending my first New York Semantic Web Meetup (held Mar 25, 2010) not just as a participant but also as a presenter. Thanks primarily to organizer Marco Neumann’s efforts and enthusiasm, this session actually included three talks — with focus on User Interfaces for the Semantic Web, Social Search Space and the Factual API — and drew a packed house of attendees ranging from tech bloggers and diverse technologists to marketing and start-up folks.

I was surprised and more than a little pleased to see the level of interest that social search generated across the board at this meeting. My intuition is that we have all, at some point or another, been involved in conducting a query that reflected social search behaviors without ever being aware of it. Posting a question to an open forum, or asking your followers on Twitter for an opinion, or sharing your photos/tips/reviews on various sites like Facebook,  Foursquare and Amazon. In some sense every one of us has been either a producer or a consumer of social data that came up as a “relevant” result to a search query.

There is definitely a lot of interesting research and practice in this space and my talk was perhaps just the tip of the iceberg, serving more as a starting point for further exploration. My slides are available on SlideShare (link here) and Daniel Tunkelang also referenced the talk (post here) on his excellent blog

The slides were designed to be a backdrop for interactive discussion and may not necessarily provide all the context (and navigational links) in this format. To help reduce this cognitive gap, I thought it would help if I made some of my notes from those slides available. These pages also explicitly call out the hyperlinks for any referenced sites or recommended reading — hope you find them useful. 

The Evolution Of Social Search (Handout)  (PDF) version of the notes with slides.

As always, comments and feedback are most welcome. 🙂


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