Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.
If you follow blogs like The Next Web and Altsearchengines, you might notice that social search engines are booming. Stumpedia, Topicle, AndUnite, you name it. They’re popping up everywhere and at least twice a week, one of the founders sends me a line to tell me why his engine is gonna be the top of the bill.
Geoffrey McCaleb from Nsyght is one of them. He and his team have found a new take on social searching: allowing users to use their bookmarks and their social graph to create a customized search experience. “the real eureka moment came when I thought, how can an algorithm tell me whats relevant when my assumptions of relevancy are going to be different from everyone else.”
McCaleb believes that no algorithm can replace the objectivity of a human being. “We all have different concepts and notions of what we find relevant. So, we wanted to create a search engine that didn’t treat every set of keywords the same. What you find relevant for a search may be different from mine.”
The beta version of Nsyght provides integrations into a number of social services such as del.icio.us, ma.gnolia, simpy, digg, last.fm, twitter, and pownce. “We do a couple of things with the social graph, we preserve friendships across different social networks, and we allow for users to syndicate their bookmarks between these services. The key takeaway point here, the more information we know about a person, the more we can customize the search to make it more relevant to them.”
The holy grail
But the most important question remains, Mr. McCaleb. Why would the public choose your search engine, out of all the other alternatives?
“Well there may be a lot of competition in this space, but I feel pretty strongly no one has approached the problem in the same way we have. The holy grail in search is not having the biggest index, but the one that gets you a relevant result in the shortest possible time. While we are small – a given since we are self-funded – we obviously have a ways to go. But as we gain more users, we will gain more of their bookmarks, and then we will have even more highly relevant sites in which to crawl and index.
Another way to look at it is this. PageRank is a brilliant concept, and still does an incredible job determining relevancy. But fundamentally, even with all the data points probably looks at it still is more concerned about the source and not the content. What we can do is let the user define the sites they feel are relevant, leverage their social network, and over time see their results become highly personalized. So in a way, augmenting the algorithm for their own use and gain.”
What do you use?
The only way to end this article, in my opinion, is to ask you guys whether you really use social search engines? Since you’re probably the most web-savvy crowd out there, you would also be the first ones to adopt a new trend. So tell me, still on Google? Or already switching to the brand new social engines?
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