Finally, finally I get it. User Generated Content (UGC) is already a billion dollar industry. I mean: look at Google.
Philipp Lenssen of Google Blogoscoped is quoting Google CEO Eric Schmidt from Googles Pressday 2006: â€œWeâ€™re moving to the next state of the internet where itâ€™s all about people and expressionâ€ â€“ search is still the focus, he adds.
But why would search qualify as UGC? To quote Schmidt again: The Google â€œahaâ€ moment for many was when you use their search and say, â€œwow, thatâ€™s amazing.â€ Eric says these small personal â€œahaâ€ moments created Googleâ€™s viralness, and theyâ€™re different for different persons.
Search is personal. Well, maybe not the single word you type into a box and press return. But your search patterns are pretty unique. And with Google Co-op, search results and UGC get a bit closer together.
It might not be ready for prime time (The product is an open platform but it’s very difficult to understand and use right now, even for a geek like me, writes Steve Rubel in Micro Persuasion). But the gist is: you can label websites you like – and people can subscribe to your choices. Everythings going to be integrated into search (as search is just an interface to a collection of information).
Searching the engine already creates you a potentially personal collection of content. Tagging and qualifying those results creates another layer of meta-content – which now can be re-fed into the search engine.
The NY Times quotes Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president for search products. “A little bit of human involvement goes a long way,” Ms. Mayer said. Which is a cutesy way of saying that algorithms can get you just so far. In a certain way, the geekly kingdom is following the tracks of Yahoo! and its latest buyouts (Flickr, Webjay, del.icio.us …).
As an example: Palatable computer generated restaurant recommendations would be real rocket science. Why? Taste buds are fickle. That’s why the typical consumer recommendation site are quack, too. If you want to have a nice dinner, why would you trust the recommendation of a persons who’s social life (or, at least the part that you’re aware of) is about recommending products and services you’ll never need? Let’s see, how Co-op tackles this.
Google Notebook takes yet another step of blending user interactions (searching, choosing from results, dismissing most of them …) into content. The idea: take the bland results. And let the user pick the best hits and annotate them. “If someone has planned a great Hawaiian vacation with great research into snorkel boats, they should be able to share it,” Ms. Mayer said.
As Steve Rubel writes regarding Co-op: I would love to see them layer in Blogger so that there is some editorial around these results as well. We haven’t seen Notebook yet. But it does already sound a bit like Blogger light. Instead of Blog This, it’s put it in your Notebook.