Google +1: Let Your Friends Pick Your Search Results?

Google +1
Google launches +1 June 2, 2011

I hated high school… well… not so much the school as the whole social dynamic and the class hierarchy that accompanied it. Being ranked and classified when we should be defined by our individuality, is not a concept I’ve ever been comfortable with. I’m a person, not a jock, brain or druggie. But of all the clicks in high school, the ones who perpetuated them the most were the jocks, because they were the muscle, and they could.

You know who I’m talking about, the idiots with the hyperactive gland problems that earned them a spot on the football team and therefore a right to terrorize their fellow classmates. Yeah, I’m talking about you Jeff Moore–the big bully who’d cause smaller and usually more interesting people to disappear into the shadows to avoid your wrath.

Like King Kong who they so effectively emulate, these bullies were seldom, if ever,  brighter, or as articulate as the undersized and underclassmen they intimidated, yet they stood out from the crowd by simple virtue of being able to beat on their chest and bellow louder than anyone else around them. Yeah, that’s about what sums up a good chunk of what it took to be popular in high school.

Here we are 30 years later, and while the arena may have changed, the dynamics look like they are not about to. This time around, high school is the internet and it’s starting to look like the new school bully may be Google. Tomorrow, Google will launch +1, allowing users to “like” pages and in theory define your future searches based on what’s “popular.”

The problem with this is, just as your campus King Kong was popular for all the wrong reasons, judging by what passes for entertainment on television these days, the public will have a chance to once again get it all wrong when it comes to choosing what we should find in our search engines, just as they’ve mucked up our choice of television shows. Can’t say I’m looking forward to having my search experienced mucked up with reality TV shows and American Idol references.

We’ve all had to search to the the to fifth page and beyond because we couldn’t find what we’re looking for, what happens when the popular vote places even more of those misguided search results we don’t want ahead of the results we do?

Certainly, at times I may be interested to see what my friends like relative to the search, but I also like to mine a few of those web gems from the bowels of the internet myself and be the first to share them.

As long as Google allows us to search without a little help from our friends, +1 could be a fun new way to interact with our friends socially on the net. But if it becomes the standard for determining which results are best suited for our searches, then Google becomes no better than a bullying King Kong on the internet, forcing those not as powerful into the dark recesses of the web and casting it’s ill begotten light on crap we could care less about just because some of our less intelligent friends find it amusing.

And that’s the real difference–a lot of us grew up and don’t run in social packs and welcome friends from all walks of life, but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything they say–or search for. I’m an individual and I treat my friends as such and I expect the same from my search results, to be individualized, not the product of a popularity contest.

You’d think a bunch of computer nerds would remember just how fun popularity contests were in high school and would know better.

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