17 Jan 2013

Facebook working on "FB Search Graph Engine"

On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Graph Search, which gives users the ability to search their social networks for things like photos and restaurant recommendations. For a long time, search has been one of the weaknesses of the site; now it might actually be useful. You can search for all the photos that you have liked, or all the restaurants in San Francisco that have been liked by your friends who like Lady Gaga. It pores over individualized information that no other search engine has; more interestingly, it represents a different way of thinking about searching, stressing the integration of information across your posts and those of your friends , rather than just returning a particular page that seems to fit your criteria.

Most search engines, including Google’s, mainly sort pages to see which come closest to some set of keywords (or their synonyms), but they do relatively little to integrate information across pages. If you want a list of all the books written by members of Congress in 2007, you can do a search, but you’ll end up lost.We can’t be certain, yet, how Graph Search will really work, and how it will evolve when it has masses of users.The company is only rolling it out to a small group of people at the moment, and it will certainly evolve, particularly as people raise concerns about privacy. But, in theory at least, Facebook Graph Search consolidates information over time and space.

In effect, each user can now use Facebook as if it were a giant,custom tailored database, not just a librarian that gives a list of documents that are most relevant to your query. Although the ideas behind Facebook Graph Search aren’t entirely original Google can do similar things in limited domains, such as shopping, and Wolfram Alpha can do math and draw graphs based on data in its archives it really is likely to change the way many people think about search.

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