Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz.org
has provocatively suggested that del.icio.us
the social bookmarking service, makes a better search tool than Google.
He runs a couple comparison searches to demonstrate his point, and he
garners widespread agreement in the comments on his blog. Even some who
do not concede that del.icio.us is actually better
than Google (see Josh Catone at Read/WriteWeb
for example) are ready to allow that data from social bookmarking and
ranking sites could usefully add "social relevance" to the apersonal
algorithms of a search engine like Google's. Search results from
del.icio.us are the fruit of massively parallel human evaluations, but
the beauty of del.icio.us and other tools of its ilk is that their
usefulness for searching is largely a by-product of self-serving
individual efforts. I use del.icio.us primarily because I find it
convenient and efficient; the fact that my bookmarking activity
contributes to the collective project of indexing the web is just icing.
Scholars are already acquainted with the trade-offs between
comprehensive versus vetted references. One might even say that
published lists of references have constituted a form of 'social
bookmarking' all along. And searchable citation indexes (such as, for
example, the Social Sciences Citation Index
) have been aggregating social citation trends since well before del.icio.us ever came onto the scene.
All the same, it is intriguing to ponder how a "2.0" or "3.0" spin on
academic citation management might one day outstrip the established
frameworks for creating intellectual community. Some of the pieces are
already in place. A little tool at Find my CiteULike neighbors
, for example, lets you figure out who shares a lot of references with you so that you can see what others have
found that you have missed. And then, of course, you can subscribe
through RSS to be alerted of any kindred spirit's future citations.
As a search engine, CiteULike
is still a long way from making the professional indexes and databases
obsolete. As more scholars use it, CiteULike will only get better. For
the moment, though, a more realistic but still very exciting
alternative might be something along the lines of Catone's notion of
adding social relevance: What if PsychINFO
or the MLA Bibliography
linked to reviews, popularity, and rankings as tracked by CiteULike (or Connotea
)—perhaps along the lines of what LibraryThing
is already doing for the public library in Danbury, CT
? Even simple links to add or find articles in CiteULike or Connotea would be welcome enhancements.
How to cite this workKevin Wiliarty. "The Search Engine That's Already Better Than Google." Academic Commons Issue Name (Spring 2008): 09 May 2013. <http://www.academiccommons.org/>.
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