Bing and Near Network Crowdsourcing

Bing added a new social function to their search which is pretty interesting.

You’ve had sharing for certain results like news and entertainment for a few months and now we bring you this sharing experience into Bing Shopping! With a single click you can ask for advice from your friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter for their take on a product you saw on Bing Shopping. You can even share it the old fashioned way – over email! We see our users using it not only to get feedback on price but on whether a particular product would look good on them, has a better model, etc.

[From Bing Community]

Why is it interesting you might wonder? Well for starters they are blending algorithmic search with social networks and that really changes the dynamics of search because it’s no longer about who has a better search function. Of course the search function itself is still the core so this doesn’t mean that Bing can relax their investment in search engine development… if you are not at least as good as Google then you don’t matter.

This social function also changes the search dynamic because now I am putting my near network, the people I am directly connected to, on the same playing field with the search engine service. People intuitively do this all the time when they ask “hey is this a good price” or “is this a good product”; we used to do it manually by asking our friends and then through scanning review sites and product forums but it was all a very disconnected process. As our online social networks expanded we were presented with a new opportunity to reach other people we felt some affinity with.

The word affinity is very important here and the next logical step for Bing would be to blend affinity networks, not just friend lists but people networks who we perceive to be just like us.

I like Bing a lot, it’s the primary search engine I use on a daily basis, and one of the reasons it appeals to me is that the core Bing premise is that we don’t search to find things, we search to do things whether it be make a decision about a product, find detailed information about a question or concern we have, update ourselves on news, find local business information, and much more more. Secondly Bing seems to understand that a pure algorithm is only going to get you so far, there has to be an optional social overlay.