Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Shrinking Internet

As someone who began his online career during the heyday of the '90s boom in San Francisco, I can remember when the Internet didn't seem all that big. Most people were on AOL, a few were trying something new called Yahoo and most online content consisted of words and still pictures. Believe me it was a good time to be a web writer and probably a photographer for that matter.

Nowadays the Internet is just so much bigger. There is a seemingly infinite amount of content available in either written, video, musical or graphics form. Much of our use of the Internet now consists of trying to filter out useless or unwanted information in the form of advertising, poor search results and bad links.

To that end the good people at Bing and Facebook have gone into a partnership that could make the web feel smaller and homier once again. The social networking site and Bing's parent company, Microsoft, rolled out a new search feature wherein people's Facebook friends, profiles and 'likes' will be integrated into search results.

The "social search" feature, as it is called, will be available when people are using the Bing search engine while logged into facebook. It is anticipated that by using one's likes, interests and other Facebook information as a kind of "search filter" Bing will be able to provide more relevant, tailor-made search results.

1998 was like a million years ago in Internet time. The days of one giant communal, AOL-centered web experieince are long gone. The web is vast and overwhelming. So when big web players like Bing and Facebook stand shoulder-to-shoulder and try to create a more user-friendly experience, it brings the web back under control to some degree. Search optimization is after all at its best when it guides what we experience on the web through filtering and sorting out what we don't want to see from what we want to.

None of this will make the web smaller, but it can make our own experience of it more manageable and enjoyable. Kind of like living in a cozy neighborhood in the middle of a big-city.

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