The blogosphere is abuzz this month because Google has unveiled an "update" of sorts to it's search engine, called "Search Plus Your World." The basic premise of the new search platform is that Google will combine the regular search results that we are used to with personalized search results based off of your Google+ social networking account.
Graeme McMillan, at techland.time.com, gives a pretty good breakdown of the specific "changes" here, but I'll also list out some of the new features for your benefit, based on his info:
-Personalized search results based on your Google+ information
-Auto-complete prompt based on that same Google+ information
-Google+ promotion on the right-hand sidebar of your search results page (for example, linking you to Google+ conversations about your search query)
Don't fret: you can apparently turn off the option to have your search personalized based off of your Google+ information, and you can also configure your privacy settings to guard against your personal info being splattered across search results pages. In fact, you'll have to be signed into your Google+ account to get this special page of search results at all- otherwise it will be business as usual. However, Google itself gives the common sense warning that “When you upload all this information you have to realize that it can become public and it can become searchable.”
Are you wondering why we would even be interested in this new way of googling?
McMillan explains the motivation behind the update with the example that if you were to search for information about a particular restaurant you wanted to try out, you could get social-networking recommendations and personal content (from friends, or people you know, or maybe even people who know people you know) in ADDITION to regular web-based reviews and info.
Those who don't have Google+ will just continue to get the same old, cluttered, Google search results.
Unfortunately for Google, they've generated some negative reactions to the update. Complaints include unfair favoring of Google+ over other social networking sites (obviously), and a general dissatisfaction with the cluttered, advertisement-filled, non-rank based search results the search engine seems to be leaning towards.
Finally, in addition to the search engine update and surrounding controversial reaction, Google also decided to launch an "educational campaign" this month called "Good To Know." The campaign is meant to help people (especially those who are less computer-literate... though there don't seem to be many in that category these days!) stay safe online and manage their personal data. The campaign has rolled out with this fun website, but will also be featured in print pieces. Of course, this campaign launch (probably more like it's TIMING) has some people bothered as well. As Jeff Chester, executive director of the Centre for Digital Democracy, put it: "This campaign should be nominated for some kind of award for fiction. If grades were given out for privacy protection, Google would get a D plus."
Well, you didn't expect Google to continue on in it's clean and simple format forever did you? Technology brings about constant changes, advancements, upgrades, and innovation, so Google is really just keeping with the times! The main problem they'll have in the next couple of months is keeping disgruntled people loyal to their search engine since there DO happen to be other search options out there.