Back in the day there was an amazing company that claimed to possess one skill which it could do better than anyone else. This company was on a mission to put its skill to good use. With help from some angel investors and a whole bunch of web servers they pretty much accomplished what they had set out to do.
So they became a little complacent about that particular skill as their eyes were opened to all the other nifty things they could do with these other skills they had acquired. So they branched out into this and that and some other things too. Many of their projects saw great success, while many more flopped. But they told themselves not to worry, for they still had their original skill to fall back on and nobody could ever steal that from them.
Ok, enough with the story. If you don’t get it, I’m talking about Google in their early days. They began as a search engine project with one major goal: Organize the world’s information. Did they accomplish it? Well, where do you go to find something online? Oh, Google? I thought so.
While others have tried to enter Google’s preferred field of business (search technology), they’ve always been met with the undisputed fact that Google controls such a vast swath of the market share for search that directly competing with them is near impossible (unless you’re Steve Ballmer).
So what is the point? Well, back in the day the number one problem people had with the internet was that there was very little structure. It was a dumping ground of information with no organization. Google came along and fixed that and amazingly enough, they ended up making billions of dollars along the way.
Guess what? That problem seems to be bubbling back up to the surface. With most tech companies now focused on social media, we are seeing more and more information (albeit mostly useless babble) being pushed online once again. Who is organizing this data into meaningful and searchable ways?
Twitter is doing an okay job making tweets searchable and Facebook is getting pretty good organizing the content of their 500 million members, but both companies are looking at the problem from within. Both are seeing their own data as more important than anything else. Nobody has come along and made the social web completely searchable. This sounds like the perfect job for Google.
But then again we have another problem. Social data is not something we’re all willing to give out to the world at random. It is very private at times. Just look as the privacy debate constantly going on about Facebook. So then, how do you organize the social web without exploiting it? That is quite a difficult challenge, especially when the bulk of the data is controlled by one company, Facebook.
Some have said Google has lost its way in recent years. Well, this might be the challenge they were looking for. They are the undisputed champs of search technology. Let’s see them put it to good use, because although our content has changed, the basic premise is the same. We want the right information and we want it fast. Google, can you help us?