Google Social Inbreeding And Claustrophobia

When is a friend not a friend?

Maybe when you have had too much of a good thing …

Recent innovation in the Google search engine results is to tailor your search results to those people on line to whom you are most connected.

In other words Google has decided that your online friends, and your friends online friends, are probably interested in the same sorts of things that you are, so when you search for something you will probably want to know what your friends have to say about the matter.

The returned result will reflect something like what is happening the picture below (at least that is what the video from the official Google blog says).

Friend network

That all sounds fantastic doesn’t it?

But if this is the way of the future, what will the future end up looking like?

As I see it there are two possible outcomes.
1) It works like they say it will.
2) It doesn’t work like they say it will.

I am not sure which will be more scary. If it works like they are trying to engineer it to work then the more time you spend online the more the results will be tailored to your tastes and that of your friends.

Can you imagine a world so boring?

You are trapped in a pattern of perpetual sameness. No matter what search term you plug into Google, Google is going to throw back at you results that reflect the browsing behavior of you and your friends. A little too much like inbreeding in my books, self centred at best.

Ok, so initially your social network results have been segregated, but they have been engineering the results to your own habits for some time. And I can understand what Google is trying to do. They are trying to save you scrolling through the results to find sites that might interest you, or sites that feature your friends who obviously interest you.

But sometimes I just like to be surprised!

Perhaps I am strange. Maybe no-one else has learned something new and interesting because of an odd result that came back when they searched for a term on a search engine.

Or how about the other alternative? What if it doesn’t work as they plan?

The more likely outcome, in the short term at least, is that we will be inundated with new “friends.” If the only way of getting your website promoted to new circles of influence is make friends with new people, then I can see those people who currently spam your comment box, your forum, your social profiles, and your email in-box suddenly wanting to become your best friend.

As it is I have a plethora of “friends” from various social sites whose only attempt at interaction with me was to add me as a friend. I am not sure about you, but I thought friendship was a little more than having your avatar displayed on someone else’s friend list. Why would you even bother to go the effort if you were never intending to at least say “hi.”

I guess time will tell if it “works” or not. But at this stage I’ll enjoy the few surprises I discover when doing searches, and I’ll continue to make the most of my relatively small friends list.