Social takes the fight to search
Facebook's growth puts social in the spotlight and search on notice.
It's interesting times in the world of 'social' media. That label's become synonymous with the likes of Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Yet, it seems slightly wrong-headed to suggest that all the services that came before these somehow lacked a social element. Even in the old days of bulletin boards on green screens, it was still about people interacting and communicating. Perhaps the reality is that the term 'social' describes an epoch in the development of the interwebs - it marks a point where we've achieved such saturation in our always-on lives that it truly has become an integral tool for keeping contact with our circle of friends. We use it to communicate our thoughts, ideas, pictures, likes, links... you name it. Increasingly that's on the move through our ever smarter phones. Many of us are simply listeners, whilst others can't stop chattering to anyone who'll listen. But one question going begging is where's Google? It's not as if Google didn't get its collective act on the case. Orkut, launched at the start of 2004, is Google's own social network but, other than Brazil and India, it's been a bit of a flop in terms of popularity. Meanwhile Facebook has managed to eclipse Google in the US. It was the most popular site for the week ending 13 March 2010, pushing the search engine into the No.2 spot. That's a big deal. Google's business model seemed pretty much unassailable until recently but this single statistic highlights that it's no longer a one-horse race for the web user's attention. Google has been expert at taking technology and making it accessible to the masses. In doing so it's made an awful lot of cash. But perhaps it missed the point about technology simply being the enabler to help people be.... more social.