Google search and Caesar’s wife

Is Too Much Plus a Minus for Google?
[Via Daring Fireball]

Stephen Levy:

Search, in short, should appear to be like Caesar’s wife, above reproach. When using its algorithmic wizardry to deeply integrate social information into its search experience, it behooves Google to avoid even a whiff of bias. With SPYW, though, the odor is unmistakable. No matter how you cut it, the search engine now increases the value of participating in Google+. It may be Google’s right to do this. But it also may turn off a lot of users. And it also provides ammo for Google’s detractors, including those in Washington.

I see two risks in this regard. First, the trust issue that Levy outlines above. Second, visually, their results now look more cluttered.


Google got where it is by making search not only useful but trustworthy. The only things in a search page were the results I wanted. It was unbiased by intermediaries deciding what I really meant.

And if I did a search and my friend, Bob, did the same search, we would get the same responses.

No one at the time did this quite as well and as simply as Google. The others put up all sorts of ads and distractions from the search. Pictures and stuff.

Google was just pretty much text.

Now Google has been diminishing these aspects of search, trying to decide what we want from the search results, rather than giving an unbiased one.

Gone was the easy ability to force Google to give me results with all the terms I wanted on the page. Now Google mostly tries to decide what I am really looking for and will often return pages without the words I asked to search for.

Now it will deprecate search on the net for search of my social network. It wants to use Google + to create such a detailed profile of just me that it can present a personalized view of just what I am really looking for, not what I think I am looking for.

As a default, Google will no longer provide unbiased results of searches but what it determines I really want to see based on my social network.

This means that the usefulness of Google search is now dependent on just what my Google + network looks like. So search is no longer unbiased and is only as trustworthy as my network is.

Google limits the number of connections to 5000. I would expect this somewhat arbitrary limit might be due to degrading search results if you had many more connections in your Google+ circles.

It might be that so many people increases the random noise of a social search so as to make SPYW almost useless.

I am really curious how a search would look for people with, say, 0, 100,1000 or someday 50,000 connections on their Google+ circles?