The Golden Triangle of Social Search

I´ve been using Delicious as a tool for bookmarking since it was born, back in 2003, when it was a small project. Those times tagging was an emerging feature and users somehow weren´t really aware about how good would be if the www was tagged properly. Delicious was only the beginning, more than a lab experiment, where we found deep intentions of introducing descriptions of information - in this case, when we were about to save them in our bookmark list- . Today, only 5 years later, we can see some interesting results while searching content on the web...

As we know, popular search engines use an algorithm to show users results based on their queries. These results aren´t "human oriented": The answer we get from the system is a bunch of results based on something serveral servers evoke, showing you the results throughout a concrete interface, no matter if we´re talking about Google, Ask or Yahoo!: They all show you results from an algorithm perspective.

If I want to find out information about, let´s say, houses made of wood I can Google queries like "wood houses" getting the following SERP:

If you´re looking for specific slots of information probably you won´t know where to start (maybe you´ll click somewhere aroung Google´s Golden Triangle and depending on your expectations you´ll come back and try with another query or another search engine).

Typing the same queries in Delicious we get a different point of view, what I call the golden triangle of social search:

  • I can see the number of people who already have saved the same website, giving me a good affordance. More people with the same link saved means more interesting might be the content after the link;
  • I can also see other suggested tags users have also used to save the same webpage. If I don´t get what I expected in my first attempt I can try with the other ones to narrow my search;
  • I can even see the personal comments people wrote in their bookmarks to help them find the information when they come back to their bookmark list, giving you a deeper description of what you´re going to visit.

Summing up: Useful, human and simple, exactly the right approach we need to give to this huge growing amount of information we have flying online.

Curiously, since mid-2008 Google is trying to give Google SERP´s a more human/social approach, giving users the choice of voting and adding comments to search results. Although not everybody is happy enough with this idea, from my point of view soon or later we´ll need this kind of features to help us clicking on the right link, saving us time.

The interesting thing about Delicious is that users aren´t forced to put tags on their bookmarks, they do it because is something they get benefit from it: Having a neat and tidy bookmark list make scanning it less painful. And, extra ball, at the same time, they´re contributing to the rest of the community.

The more you use Delicious to find decent web results the more you realize you need it. Give it a try and you´ll see...