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More Insightful Search

Kim Hart

Google has become a household name, but several firms here at DEMO want more depth and detail out of a search engine. They want results to be tailored to your own personality, using the context found in your online profiles and preferences as a guide.

First up is Delver, which lets you search within your social networks for content and media personalized for you from the people you already trust. Delver indexes the information found in the social networks, blogs, Flickr and YouTube, and cross-connects the data to deliver search results that are relevant to you.

Circos.com helps consumers find products and services that fit their lifestyle. It works sort of like a recommendation site, a hybrid of Yelp and Yahoo!. Instead of sifting through thousands of results when you search for a restaurant, for example, Circos mines information from user-generated content to yield a targeted list of the types of restaurants you're looking for. If you search for "funky cafe," Circos may tell you about a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on the other side of town that got rave reviews from other customers. Circos could appeal to advertisers because it introduces their brands to target audiences in the right context. Right now, it only searches hotels and restaurants, but the firm will eventually expand into consumer electronics, pharmaceuticals, etc.

As more and more Web applications seem to be incorporating your social life, social search seems to be an obvious move. But variations of the idea already exist in the form of social bookmarking and social discovery sites such as Del.icio.us and StumpleUpon. But sites that already know my preferences and friends, without any input from the user, could score big with social networking addicts.

By Kim Hart  |  January 31, 2008; 3:02 PM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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I have mixed feelings about the cataloging and indexing of social networks on the Internet and how it cross-references us. It removes the anonymous nature that many try to maintain on the internet.

In some ways this is beneficial as those who would do harm can be tracked, in theory. However, it isn't always so easy as those who are successfully indexed can become targets to those who navigate stealthily across the web. The innocent are monitored whereas the guilty have the knowledge and resources to slip between the cracks with false identities and forgeries.

The indexing of social sites and personal lives is only going to contribute to a police state where you have to be careful of the things you do and say online. It will only lead to more and more rules, laws, and regulations regarding where you go and what you accomplish by means of the internet.

I'd rather trade external accessibility in for other things of value: Anonymity and personal discretion - keeping unknown stalkers and snoops to a minimum.

Posted by: barcodedmaggot | February 7, 2008 12:59 PM

The Internet is being used as a tool for marketing to our lifestyles. While it's apparent that many lazy people will benefit from having the products they like marketed to them, this is inviting spam.

You can already find anything. Anything. How much easier does it need to get for people to be satisfied?

Giving businesses the power to deliver product suggestions to you is advertisement - it saturates the internet with more and more of what others want you to see, based on the likelihood that you'll buy. It has nothing to do with what people truly need.

Posted by: barcodedmaggot | February 7, 2008 1:02 PM

I'd like to be as anonymous as possible to avoid spam, stalking, and identity theft. Why is it assumed that people are so desperate to find ways to spend their money, they seem to spend it all (and more) quite easily now.

Posted by: Robert17 | February 13, 2008 5:14 AM

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