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2008 Wish List: Search Engine Hangover Cures

ryan-kevin
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The champagne has popped, followed closely by the aspirin bottles, and the new year is in full swing. The new year is always a time for looking forward, and while last week's column focused on the old, I thought I'd kick off the year with a wish list for 2008.

Without further witless banter, here's my (not necessarily in order of importance) 2008 wish list:

The End of Stupid Press Releases

My holiday bliss was suddenly interrupted by yet another painful observation about the online industry. No doubt, information consumption has changed forever, and the latest series of stupid press releases is evidence of that transmogrification. For a nominal fee, any moron can issue a press release on a newswire and get picked up by one of my feeds.

Stupid press releases include (but are not limited to) anything that only you and your company, family, or in-laws think is news. My favorite stupid press release this season came from a Web design firm that had built an industry vertical Web site. Said Web site claimed to have achieved some level of importance as a result of an increased presence in Google search results.

Nothing says, "Look at me, I am important as a result of doing nothing," like a reference to gaining ground on search results due to the ongoing algorithmic shift. Of course, I couldn't help but note the fact that said press contact on stated press release carried the same last name as the CEO of the site.

Filters are getting better, but I have yet to see one that removes "moron" from the list. I can only beg that people use the slightest bit of restraint before clicking "publish."

Bloggers Suddenly Develop a Conscience

Selling links might be a worst practice, but it's still a distant second to getting caught selling links. Hope for a joyous new year is often accompanied by some unrealistic expectations. My latest unrealistic expectation relates to my ongoing obsession with link baiting (define).

Once again, I'll ask for a little reader participation. Please read the following mantra when blogging:

"Goading people into linking to me by appealing to the lowest common denominators of human emotion contributes nothing to the Internet."

There are plenty of responsible bloggers out there, but it's difficult for the layperson to distinguish the good from the bad. Think of it this way: have you ever known a crazy person that actually knew he was crazy?

At the end of the day, it's all about one human need filling another. The need to feel important is being fed by appealing to the need to feel informed and share in the misery of others. But again, that's not doing much to add to the credibility of the Web.

Social Media Asset Darwinism Matures

Minutes before the holidays, I noted that commercialization tends to kill our favorite social platforms. "Kill" might have been a bit harsh. How about, "Opens the door for more clutter and slowly shifts the power dynamic," to "new and better" destinations?

"New and better" destinations are often venture funded, appear on the scene as a "true" social destination, and are later over commercialized as investors realize the site will never meet its revenue goals.

I have absolutely no motivation to spend the obvious 40 to 50 hours it must take to learn about all the new features on Facebook. Vampires, poking, superpoking, and the "secret crush" features that are in one way or another tied to commercial interests gain less and less ground as users discover what's behind the curtain.

Once again, only days before Mr. Hankey began spreading joy and holiday cheer for everyone with fiber in their diet, Spock, the people powered search engine, came out of beta. The "outing" celebration included spamming the heck out of my social network with trust requests.

Of course, linking the network of social networks and force-feeding your contacts is the trend of the day. More and more "networks" are building equity with contact terrorism, but these tactics will only serve to alienate and ultimately feed the vicious cycle of adoption and abandonment of social communities.

"New Search Engine" Requirements Implemented

While we anxiously await the release of the new and improved mobile platform with Android and wait in harmonious exuberance for the next evolution of universal search, hundreds of search technology "hopifiles" try to break into the search world.

In 2008, a search site will have to actually be "new" in order to call it "new." Well, I can hope.

If you've ever had the urge to get out there and "toss some salads," yet another alternative search site launched while we were away. Search Salad joins the ranks of search sites attempting to create a destination by aggregating other search engine's results.

I have to admire Search Salad's parent company, UK-based Lemon Interactive. They didn't let the astonishingly marginal subsistence of dozens of other sites with strikingly similar search result aggregation business models deter them from launching their self proclaimed "unique" search destination.

Search Salad doesn't include paid results (yet, see previous section on the commercialization vicious cycle) and the future of search aggregators should not be solely determined by past performance of similar business models, but as an avid reader of Charles Knight's monthly Top 100 search site list, I know better.

Well, I guess I'm not the only one hoping for miracles in 2008.


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