Tag Archives: XFN

Google Nails Down Social Search

Google’s Social Search is doing the walk, all the rest are just doing the talk. As soon as I activated the Social Search experiment, my next search yielded a social result. No setting up, showing how I am connected to that result (including friends of friends), showing as part of the standard web results…

google-social-searchContrast this with Microsoft’s poor attempt at “social search” by indexing tweets and status messages and showing them regardless of the actual searcher (example search, you’ve got to be on “United States” locale on bing to see it).

Then also contrast it with Facebook’s announcement back in August of its implementation of searching within friends’ posts – a less grandiose announcement that yet delivered far more social experience than Bing’s. Nevertheless, it’s a very limited experience and far from being a true information source for any serious search need.

So how does Google overcome the main obstaclecollecting your connections?

Google relies on its own sources and on open sources it can obtain by crawling the social graph. That is the true reason why Facebook is not part of Google’s graph (no XFN/FOAF marking on Facebook’s public pages). Google may be counting on Facebook’s inevitable opening up, and with Gmail’s rising popularity it becomes a reasonable alternative even for Facebook users like me.

Sadly, all this great news gave zero credit to Delver, where it all happened first

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Tantek Çelik’s True Identity Revealed!

This morning I came across a nice little people search demo by Martin Atkins. It’s mainly a wrapper over Social Graph API, but helps illustrate the public social graph. Now, Tantek Çelik is one of the main advocates for Microformats, which in turn generate a lot of the XFN data that feeds SGAPI. So it was quite a surprise to feed his name and see this: 

tantek-search

The horror! the horror!!

What happened here? a quick check on SGAPI led to some strange findings. Turns out that Robert Scoble’s old blog at scoble.weblogs.com is listed as strongly conncted to Tantek’s blog identity. I then went on to check out that blog – no XFN or FOAF to Tantek there. So where did that come from?

A more elaborate dive into SGAPI’s more detailed output showed that Scoble was listed as referencing Tantek with both XFN attributes of “me” and “met“. In plain English, this means that Robert Scoble said “I am Tantek Çelik, plus I also met him in person!”. So what could cause this, except for some serious case of schizophrenia?

My humble guess is that Scoble, some time ago, listed Tantek as a “met” contact on his old blog, but with a magnificient little typo, left out the ‘t’.  He then discovered the mistake and fixed it. But the Googlebot caught both cases, and added them both as relations. Now why would they do that? shouldn’t new data replace old data? well, that’s what other users of SGAPI are asking, see the discussion over at the group. Turns out the SGAPI data is not yet as timely as the main index, and Brad Fitzpatrick promises this will improve soon enough.

Considering the upcoming social diet, it better will…

Update: Hadar pointed out another example, where Chris Messina gets identified with TechCrunch UK… it’s indeed reflected in SGAPI, and I tracked this down to erroneous XFN tagging in an obscure 2006 TCUK post. Indeed demonstrates a weakness of the unmoderated, inherently decentralized XFN-based graph building. Still, for now it’s the only open standard we have, until some higher, post-processing open layer will emerge.