Dissing Facebook Search: The Cold Water Approach

March 1, 2013

I read “Facebook Gives Examples to Jumpstart Usage of Graph Search, Which It May Have Spent Too Long Building.” The main point is that Facebook fiddled and Rome burned. Now, Rome has to be rebuilt on property another empire owns.

Poor Facebook. The company muffed its IPO. Then Facebook cratered with Timeline. Now all those Xooglers have crafted a search which has to be “jumpstarted” like my first automobile, a 1955 Oldsmobile with no passenger side door.

Here’s the part of the analysis I found interesting:

Are any of those things you’d search for regularly, if ever? Maybe you’d take the occasional sweep through nostalgic content, look at recommendations for a vacation, or go hunting for new distractions. However, there’s little chance you’ll spend nearly as much time Graph Searching as browsing the daily refresh of status updates and photos from your close friends. That’s a little worrisome, especially since it follows a trend. In September 2011, Facebook’s big launch was Timeline. Beautiful, sure. But how often do you dive years back into your profile, or those of friends? Facebook poured tons of resources into the ability to call up historic content. For what? When I visit most people’s profiles, I look at their recent photos, last few posts, and About section. All of these were handled just fine by the old version of the profile. Adding cover images may have been sufficient.

Yep, worrisome for a free service in beta too. And who is pronouncing Facebook search a dead Oldsmobile?

My thoughts:

  1. Facebook cannot emulate Google’s brute force search. Google is eating some hefty costs, and Facebook wants to avoid a 1996 style financial black hole.
  2. Facebook knows ads and search are hooked. The Xooglers have explained why head to head ad fights with Google is not such a good idea. Therefore, the Facebook folks are looking for an angle. Notice I did not say, “Found.”
  3. Facebook has a thinner tightrope to walk than Google. Facebook can do many things with its content and metadata. Figuring out what combination will yield the most money and the fewest hassles will take time.

Skip the criticism. Track the deltas. Facebook may fail. So what? The journey is a free education for those not innovating.

Stephen E Arnold, February 28, 2013


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