With in excess of 70 million YouTube videos, more than 130 million weblogs, in excess of 1,1 billion tweets to date, 10 million Wikipedia articles and more than 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion!) unique URLs in Google’s index  according to the FutureBuzz –  it’s a truly insanely staggering amount of data and information that humankind is producing. Content is king. Is it?

From retrospective knowledge management to real time insights
Less than one decade ago, knowledge management experts and solutions aimed at making implicit or tacit knowledge – stored in the heads of experts – explicit in some form of content management system. Intranet, extranet and other solutions were implemented to help enable the corporate flow of data, information and knowledge within and beyond corporate boundaries. The digital role of the community was known yet undervalued.

Overtime the ever increasing amount of content, added with the difficulty of keeping everybody disciplined in posting regular updates, has given rise to more emphasis on the network or community of people. Rather than making all content explicit, wouldn’t professionals be better off having a transparent and actual rather than retrospective view of who does and knows what? Here is where communities come in and why social media have started to play such a dominant role in sharing and exchanging views, information, experiences on a whole host of topics including services, products and the companies behind these.

If Google can’t answer the need for social search, who can?
Google has only been around for some 10 years and has become one of the most successful companies on the planet as @JeffJarvis brilliantly describes in What Would Google Do. Besides rumours on an updated search interface, Google has recently announced social search, by which insights from one’s network pop up to the search to complement historical, 3rd party sources as traditionally displayed. Yet, as the Socialized blog wants it, there are new kids on the block. Microsoft’s Bing has made a successful appearance on the search scene with more relevant social search value to be announced in 2010. Integrated into Bing, Wolfram Alpha has the built-in power as ‘computional knowledge engine’ to provide the one and only just answer to a question submitted rather than generating thousands or millions of hits for the users to filter.

As the amount of content and the number of sources themselves become overwhelming, the human inclination may well be to simply ask for advice or recommendation in one’s own small circle. From a consumer point of view real time answer to a quest for the ‘best’ product or service then simply comes from the most recent blogs, facebook posts and tweets generated by one’s inner circle of friends and followers. I agree with @lewmoorman in his blog Beyond 140 that Twitter therefore becomes a serious alternative to Google. In quest of relevant, authentic information and real customer feedback when researching companies, products and services, breaking news and live events/conference updates, Twitter search is a fine place to go [pls note, Twitter search no longer exists today].

Consumer trends 2010 & search
Diagonally scanning the well-defined 10 key consumer trends 2010, the new search paradigm to my mind becomes apparent in at least a blend of trends #3 (real time reviews), 5 (mass mingling), 7 (tracking & alerting) and 9 (profile myning). ‘Nowism’ refers to consumers’ lust for instant gratification as well as their almost incessant contribution to the real-time content stream of reviews and write-ups. Searching and finding relevant opinions and socializing online thru social media will lead to more physical mass mingling as people inherently enjoy meeting up with other people.

Search has the notion of information pull, yet the growing usage of tracking and alerting may complement the conventional search with a push version, see for example the online tracking programme that reveals New York’s city agency performance. Lufthansa’s myskystatus keeps the family and loved ones up to date on the progress of a journey. Furthermore, data and profile myning (no, not mining) refers to the huge untapped potential of consumers revealing their preferences, needs, wants and full personal profile possibly in exchange for a lower search burden.

With the strong human preference for impromptu decision making in combination with getting visual information, the forecast take-off of augmented reality (AR) should pave the way for a new generation of search platforms to be used anywhere, anytime and providing far better visual clues – solutions one could perhaps better refer to as ‘find’, ‘match’ or ‘insight’ solutions in the first place.

 

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