From Fred Wilson’s article the other day titled “Why Social Beats Search”
“Machines can help us find what is good. But with the help of machines, our friends and trusted sources can and will do that even better.”
I (and Stik.com, obviously) love Fred’s perspective on this issue – we could use that quote on top of our webpage. But I don’t think it’s that social BEATS search (or search BEATS social for that matter) – it’s that social PLUS search beats everything. From a high level, the internet is two things – 1. an indexed catalogue of the world’s information (Google) 2. infrastructure for personal connection (Facebook, eBay, gmail etc.). In the ven-diagram that sits between these two paradigms sits “social search” (cataloging information across your personal network) and “social content” (content distribution through your personal network) (and many other things, but you get the idea).
The high level unification of these concepts requires very little explanation – search becomes more useful in a social/networked context, and shared content is a powerful means of connection. Where I think that Arrington, Wilson et al are giving this idea short shrift however (understandably so, as bloggers themselves) is that “media content” is only a small portion of the value proposition of the internet as “catalogue of the world’s information” and “infrastructure for personal connection.” This discussion always centers around news: stories about “the death of the NYTimes” and “the power of Twitter and real-time search.” Yes, Fred and Michael – the facebook wall is killing online news channels, just as online news channels killed newspapers. We get it. “News” may be the highest frequency use of the internet, but the internet’s value as an information repository, marketplace and connection mechanism goes far far beyond a mere news portal.
The point? Social will dominate search – and marketplaces – and personal connection tools – and just about everything for which the internet is currently used (again, not as a replacement, but as a steroid). Perhaps even more interesting (and powerful), the combination of social and all of these internet tools will likely bring things ONTO the internet that still for the most part reside in the physical world (like mortgage sales on Stik.com).