Social search: searching the social Web or a social form of Web search?

For a number of years now, a growing trend in online information retrieval has been “social Web search” (or simply “social search”). It’s a term that continues to be tweaked and defined, and there are some quite different interpretations of what social search actually means. Generally speaking folks interpret social search to mean a form of Web search informed by the searcher’s social graph. The way in which the social graph informs search tends to be searching social feeds from the likes of Facebook, Google Plus and – once upon a time – Twitter. Posts or status updates containing links that match the user’s query can be integrated with regular search results. In this post we explore some of the ramifications of this approach to social search and suggest a different way of looking at things.


The Evolution of Web Search:From Real-Time Discovery to Collaborative Web Search

Certainly the world of the Web has changed dramatically since 2000, and search engine technology has evolved through a variety of phases. For example, in the pre-Google dawn (Search 1.0), search engines were guided primarily by the words in a page, their location and how they matched the query terms. Google’s great innovation was to demonstrate how search quality could be greatly enhanced by harnessing a new relevance signal: the links between pages. Google’s link analysis technology (PageRank) interpreted links to a page as votes and PageRank was a clever way of counting such votes to effectively compute an authority score for each page, which could then be used during result ranking.As an aside, back in the late 1990’s one of Google’s fellow innovators was a company called Direct Hit, which also argued for the need for new relevance signals. But in the case of Direct Hit the focus was on paying attention to how often users selected a page for a given query, something we will return to later. In the end Google’s PageRank was the right search technology at the right time and the rest, as they say, is history. And so Search 2.0 was primarily driven by relevance signals (links, click-thrus) that originated beyond the content of a page. More recently we have seen further innovation in the direction of vertical search (arguably Search 3.0) for topics such as images, travel, products etc. and the blending of different types of result within a universal search interface (see for example, Google’s Universal Search.


Harnessing the Latent Knowledge in Your Organization

The field of knowledge management is concerned with making it easier for insights and experiences to be shared within organizations. Despite the importance of knowledge management in today’s information-centric economy, there is a huge amount of latent knowledge that still goes untapped within most organizations. However, this latent knowledge has the potential to drive innovation and to greatly improve information access within the organization. And, importantly, the ability to realize this potential is readily available.

What is Latent Knowledge?

So what exactly do I mean by latent knowledge? The field of knowledge management generally differentiates between explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is easy to record and make available to others who can then learn from it. Tacit knowledge, however, is harder to pin down and is the sort of know-how that is better transferred directly from person to person, for example through apprenticeships. More recently, knowledge management experts have also started to talk about latent knowledge. Latent knowledge can be thought of as the building blocks of knowledge creation – it may not have coalesced yet into tacit or explicit knowledge, but individuals possess elements of it. And through group collaboration this latent knowledge can be surfaced to produce new ideas and innovations; aka, knowledge creation.


Chief Information Officer (CIO) as Innovator: Demand or Desire?

The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is changing. The enterprise of the future is a globally-distributed, hyper-connected entity with collaboration software at its core. The Chief Information Officer who embraces this movement will see high engagement, productivity enhancements, improved customer support and, ultimately, increased revenues.

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For today’s knowledge-intensive enterprise, collaboration and engagement are key to productivity and innovation