Farhad Manjoo: “Google just broke its search engine”

On Slate, Manjoo righteously bitches about Google’s decision to put social network information (namely, Google+) in basic search results. He has some fun picking apart the company’s examples:

Yet even the examples that Google employees have been showing off don’t seem very useful to me. On his blog, Matt Cutts, who heads Google’s Webspam team, points out how his query for general tso’s chicken is improved by social links. He follows Jennifer 8. Lee, the author of a book about Chinese restaurants, on Google+. When he searches for general tso’s, he gets a link to Lee’s definitive Quora post on the history of the dish. If you don’t follow Lee and you do the same search, you won’t get that post.

But I don’t see the logic here. Isn’t the Quora post a good result for general tso’s chicken whether or not you’re friends with Lee? And the reason it’s a good result is that she’s an expert on the topic, not that she’s your friend or colleague. If Lee’s post isn’t coming up for all Google searchers—rather than just the ones who are perceptive enough to follow her—it would seem to suggest something is amiss with Google’s algorithm. You shouldn’t have to friend a plumber in order to find a good link about unclogging your toilet. 

Just like that Matt Cutts to hoard all the good search results for himself!

Am I doing it wrong?

Comments? I don’t do open comments. Life is too short.

If you have something to say, get in touch via .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter.