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Social search, not authority-based

Saturday, December 27, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named tramp.jpgLoic Le Meur wants Twitter's search to emphasize people who have more followers over those that have fewer. I think this is a bad idea. On FriendFeed, Jeremiah Owyang wants priority given to people he follows. This is a better approach, imho. Loic's means centralization, and Jeremiah's goes the other way, it shards search into many networks, and lowers barriers to entry, where Loic's approach raises them.  Permalink to this paragraph

I favor Jeremiah's approach because I think the twitterverse is just starting and that the killer apps of this space, the users (as always) haven't arrived yet. We're still fumbling around with inadequate tools, doing things for the first time. It's way way too early to lock things down. And if authority is what we're after I doubt if number of followers equates to authority. Too many really smart people have very few followers. Permalink to this paragraph

Authority-based search was a great innovation in 1998, but that was ten years ago. We know what it's good for and what it's not. An example -- breaking news, although some people think that's what is good for, sometimes it doesn't work well at all. After the election I stopped watching cable news, and really slowed down on reading news sites. They were nowhere near as stimulating as they were before the election, and I had had enough of the news at least for a while. I needed a rest. But I never stopped reading Memeorandum and Techmeme, refreshing many times a day, and I have a renewed interest in Twitter as a source of news. My attention shifted to the online media.  Permalink to this paragraph

Sometime in the last 24 hours war erupted in Gaza. I saw the first pictures in the AFP photo stream about then. I wasn't fully aware of what's going on cause photos only tell you so much. I knew people were dying. Then it got worse, pictures of dozens of dead people started showing up. But-- and here's the point, nothing showed up on Memorandum until early this morning. Whatever its algorithms are, they are surely authority-based. They work if a certain set of bloggers are interested in a story, but if they're enjoying a holiday or focused on other things, they miss it. So don't put your full faith in authority, you'll miss news. Permalink to this paragraph

Finally, Mike Arrington echoes Loic's call with a note of optimism: "Perhaps an industrious third party can take a crack at it. Don't forget that Twitter search is actually a product created by a startup called Summize. Twitter bought them in July." It's true that Twitter's search was created by a startup, but Twitter gave them access to the full data stream that they don't give other developers. What Arrington suggests is not possible, unless Twitter opens up the full stream. This is what Steve Gillmor has been lobbying forPermalink to this paragraph

Another one -- I saw a note from Lisa Rein on Twitter, wondering when MSM was going to pick up on the strange circumstances around the death of Mike Connell, Karl Rove's 45-year-old IT expert, who was asking for protection because he feared for his life. Who knows why the press isn't covering it, I don't know how true it is, but maybe it is true and maybe someone is hushing it up. It has happened before. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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