the end of search? ask a friend…

This morning I spent an hour and a half showing a group of journalists at the BBC World Service how I use RSS, social networking services, social bookmarking, my blog and other tools. As I did, it dawned upon me that I don’t use google anymore.

I’m no huge fan of Google. I think they own far too many pieces of what many users consider to be essential parts of the internet – search, gmail, blogger, feedburner, adsense and more. And because most of us use these tools, often every day, Google knows a heck of a lot about us. But this isn’t a post about hating Google or, for that matter, any other search provider.

Social media has not only made me less dependent upon web search tools, it has set me free from them. I quite honestly can’t remember the last time I searched for something online yet I use the internet every day all day, from the time I set foot out of my house and use my mobile to get online whilst on my commute to work, whilst at work, then on my way home and often late into the evening. Instead of searching, I now ask my contacts on twitter or facebook and, if time isn’t of the essence, I might also check The same is true with browsing. I don’t mindlessly wander the internet looking for stuff anymore, I let my contacts, followers and friends online suggest content. And, just occasionally, my usage of a social networking site will lead to them showing me an advertisement that is actually well enough targeted that I click, although this is rare.

Is this the end of search? I seriously doubt it. But it’s a big change in the way I use the internet and I’m sure it’s not just me who doesn’t bother with – doesn’t need – to visit a web search page anymore.


  1. Are you sure?
    I know I’m using Google less and less, but I still search it for basic information all the time just because it’s so quick, just two keystrokes away.
    Let’s say I forgot when the Battle of Waterloo happened, or some other piece of basic factual information. There’s no quicker way than Google.
    And what happens when no one in your social network knows the answer? Someone will have to find information elsewhere, and that’s going to be through search, whether you’re doing it or one of the friends you asked is doing it.
    And relying purely on one’s own network is also going to be an incredibly insular system, and could lead you to being just plain wrong. Search and information aggregation sites have always been a way of disproving urban legends and myths. Social search would propagate those. Want to know the solution to the Monty Hall problem? Ask a friend who’s never heard it before and you’ll likely get the wrong answer. Ask Google and you’ll find a good explanation.
    I’m not denying the value of the social web. It’s true I visit very few homepages now, relying mostly on RSS and passed along links for information, but I doubt good ole graph based search is going to end.

  2. It’s search, Jim, but not as we know it

    For some time now I’ve been aware that I never pick up the Yellow Pages. I’ve never advertised my business in it and I certainly don’t use it. I always search the web – and I’ve the same thing from

  3. I was just thinking the exact same thing. Now, ironically, I googled “end of search” to see if anyone else had had the same thought and found this post.. but I’d like to think of that as being an exception which proves the rule. Somehow.

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