How I Feel About the Web

The fact that I can keep in touch with old elementary schoolmates I haven’t known since I was a little freckle face boy shooting hoops at Oakview during recess. Classmates that I never really got to know at the time, but who grew to become awesome and inspiring people. And it’s because of the Web that I get to know that now.

Like perpetual motion: a never ending passion for programming. How most people feel about faith (I don’t care if I never get there, I’ll never stop believing that I can). And maybe it’s the fantasy of success that keeps me driven to pursue it.

Even if I end up spending 90% of my life trying to do it and failing. Even if I only get to do it for 1 year and then I can’t anymore, it’ll always be that puzzle I get a thrill out of piecing together and picking apart again and again.

It’s not necessarily the ends, but rather the means that justify this dream.

It’s a journey that keeps my cup full and my wants on low. And smiles plentiful.

Whatever makes you happy.

Watch: Generation Like (on PBS Frontline)

I think about this all of the time. My future and what I do for a living is sort of dependent upon it.

It is the commercialization (or, consumerization, if you will) of actions or sentiment from users on a Web site – to “like” something, to “share” something, to “follow” someone, to “check-in” somewhere.

They call it social currency. I see it more as identifying actions you wish someone to take on your Web site. Before social media, there was a lot more grey area as far as what a person was doing while they were on your site. With social signals such as a “like” button, or a “follow” button, we can easily identify the person’s interest when they interact with our sites now.

What intrigues me the most is in how it effects and changes the user experience of a Web site or application for the end user – in this case, author Doug Rushkoff explores the marketing and branding of big corporations through social media and how it impacts young people.

Don’t be manipulative, Google+

Every time I open up Google+ or load a Google service and they try to trick me into sharing my social info with a service I want to keep separate, I lose a little more trust in Google.

“Don’t be evil” is slowly taking off the white hat and putting on the black hat of user experience tricks – all in the name of gaining more and more numbers to compete as a social platform.

I thought we were friends, Google. What happened? Respect my privacy, bro.

How Social Helps Answer some of the Problems of Search

What search results would you anticipate to see if you searched for ‘eli’ on Google?

Believe it or not, this is actually a very big problem for search engines to try and figure out. The problem is that one word searches do not generally target a unique enough topic to effectively narrow search results.

Am I looking for baby name meanings? Do I want to find someone in particular named Eli? Is there a Bible passage I want to find? Who knows?

The problem is a lack of deeper understanding for what the searcher is looking for. So how do you go about finding out? Ultimately one word searches will always be a hit or miss chance to properly answer a query, but one area search engines can improve upon is in better knowing topics of interest for the search user.

Enter in, the Social era of Search

There is a serious ambiguity problem with a lot of search results. Some have a hard time properly explaining to a search engine what it is they are looking for. And Google has a solution to this problem, or at least a good idea how to better narrow the results for those pesky vague keywords it normally would have trouble determining what to display.

By tracking the history of a unique searchers activity, a search engine can better gage what it is they are most likely looking for in situations where the query just isn’t specific enough to narrow the results list to exactly what the user is looking for. But in order to do this, the user must be logged in.

This is where Social Media becomes a search engines best friend – by tracking the history of a users activity with a social network that they interact with, over time the user will give you enough data to better understand there main topics of interest.