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Please Rob Me – insight driven search engines

February 25, 2010

Let me channel Avinash Kaushik for a minute:

“There’s a data puke going on in social media right now.”

The data puke comes from the fact that people are sharing like crazy. They are updating their Facebook, adding pictures to Flickr, twittering on Twitter, buzzing on Google Buzz, and telling people where they are on FourSquare and Yelp.

Step one of this data puke is creating things to organize all this content. One of the most elegant tools I’ve ever seen for web 2.0 organization is Tag Galaxy. (Cooliris is another example)

This is a screen shot of an image in Flickr with the tags Buffalo, NewYork, Sunset. Around the image, you can see the “Galaxy” that represents other shots with those three tags.

Truly elegant.

But this search engine doesn’t offer the ability to take the data and make assumptions. This is purely a search for data, and then the person needs to sift through this and determine what it means. (My insight for you about these images is that people love to take pictures of the sunset in Buffalo. Indeed, people sit in bunches to watch the sun set over water — something not possible in places in the middle of the country).

But again, as I’ve made clear on this blog called “People like to share”, we’re in an unprecedented era of sharing. As people share their every moment, there’s a data puke of information going on.

Take PleaseRobMe is a search engine that delivers and insight. If you’ve never heard of PleaseRobMe, it takes FourSquare messages, which are public posts, and lets people know that the person sharing their location isn’t at home.

Not as elegant, but certainly interesting.

This page takes Facebook data, and maps the connections of people in the world.

It also maps the people in US states, and then places them into groups based on insights gleamed from the data.

My opinion? We’ll see a lot more of this in 2010. Meaning, more people will build insight delivered search engines. There are many on Twitter that analyze tweets to determine things about the posters. And more will come out.

Brands can get into the action as well. It starts with getting the data, and then sifting through to get the actionable insights that can help the marketing message, and the marketing channels. It’s something we’re doing for clients.

What do you think? What’s your favorite new search tool?

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