Weekly Digital News Roundup: Dec 12 – 16
Will Joining Google+ Give Brands a Search Boost?
- Google has assured marketers time and time again that what really matters is fresh, well-linked content. But many brands and industry experts are speculating that the company will soon be playing its ultimate trump card: Google+ and its effect on search results.
- Google is experimenting with incorporating a click on +1 buttons one of the factors that inform its search algorithm, but it could go as far as to incorporate how widely Google+ content is being shared and the size of a brand’s circles. Other theories suggest that a significant presence on Google+ could be used to “validate” search results, thereby certifying whether or not certain pages are more relevant than others.
- In an evil-genius sort of move, if Google were to officially make Google+ a part of its search algorithm, then businesses would have a huge incentive to create business pages and maintain active profiles. This would encourage a larger shift towards seriously working with Google’s social network, thereby drawing more attention to Google+ and bringing greater numbers of the general public with it. Google, you sly dog.
Facebook Unveils New Profile Feature: Timeline
- It’s that time again – Facebook is set to make its new profile update, Timeline, public in just a few short weeks. Timeline functions as a scrapbook aggregate of a user’s full history of photos, links, videos, and most anything else they’ve ever shared. First introduced back in September at a developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg described the Timeline format as an “important step to help tell the story of your life.”
- Beta reviews are mixed. Some people are in favor of the new profile format because it is basically equivalent to a personal website. Other users feel a bit unsettled having to look at their near-forgotten party photos from years ago. In order to allow people to have some semblance of control over what gets displayed to the public, Facebook is giving users a window of time to decide which items will be hidden on their Timeline. But whether people will be willing to wade through years of content is another matter entirely.
- This isn’t just a redesign. Facebook’s impending profile change into Timeline format is making it easier for advertisers to know more information about their prospective audience. But for some users (myself included), this change is crossing a line because the social network is effectively flaunting its reserves of personal information. Before, it was easier to sort of forget that Facebook knows what I like or where I’ve been, but Timelines throws everything out into the general public. That is just plain frightening.
So.cl Emerges as Microsoft’s Social Network
- Geared towards a student audience, Microsoft’s So.cl functions as an innovative take on social networking. Lili Cheng, the Microsoft researcher who led So.cl’s development, describes it as an “experimental research project focused on how social networking and search can be used for the purpose of learning.”
- Basically, So.cl works as a search-engine-social-network hybrid. Posts start as search box queries, which can then be shared with friends. Images results can be turned into collages, which are able to be commented upon and re-worked. Users can also cue up and watch a YouTube video playlist, allowing friends to join and watch at the same time in a sort of “video party.” All of these features are designed to allow people to work together and learn from information found online.
- I’m actually really excited about So.cl. I work a lot with others in collaborative Google Docs and forums, and So.cl appears to be a social network specifically designed for mutual learning. The network is in its testing stages right now among students at the University of Washington, Syracuse University, and New York University, so we’ll see how the site evolves over the coming months.