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Google's New SearchWiki

What the heck is Google up to now?

Google has added a SearchWiki feature for registered users. It's a way of customizing your search, keeping notes on what you find and re-tooling the results to save you time the next time you're looking for something. Think of it as a social search tool, except that - so far - other users can't see your comments or preferences. (Which means that you can feel free to search under "George Michael" and note how amazing he is. What, you didn't do that first, too?)

Watch the Google video on how the search wiki works:



Now, the obvious question: How might this impact journalism?

I don't know that the average user is going to immediately start re-ranking her results and keeping notes. But the possibility certainly exists for many of our SEO practices to be thrown straight out the window. How much time and energy has your copy desk devoted to crafting catchy headlines that are most likely to be listed first by Google? Maybe you've been sneaking in extra meta tags to get your story about a local politician positioned near the recent presidential candidates. And what might this mean for the folks who, at one point, catapulted whitehouse.org above the real White House website?

Search has become complicated because of so much new information readily available. We're also running out of address space...but that's a whole separate story saved for a morning when I've had more coffee first. (To get a primer, see info on IPv6.) Is Google's SearchWiki one way of adding a human layer to search, to help refine results? Is the next phase real personalization? Is this a signal that at some point relatively soon, search focus on the content I want, regardless of source?

I'm starting to think that can't be a good thing for our beleaguered newspapers.

What to do? Every journalist should sign on, play with search wiki and start to understand how and why it works. Don't do it once. Engage with it throughout the day. And start to think about how this might impact your reporting, your publishing and the community around you...



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