The fabulous collision between social networks and search engines is the most important change to the Internet in the last ten years. And it’s changing the Internet forever.
Before the rise of social networks search engines like Google sent their robotic spiders around the Web and indexed Website content. That content was then ranked against keywords, and when we typed a search term in, like “grilled chicken marinade,” Google displayed, in order of importance, links to content that most likely would satisfy my query.
Then a few hundred million of us began creating social messages in Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Yammer, Yelp, Yahoo chat, and on and on. Often our messages referred to content on the Web, by name and sometimes by linking. In fact some sites like Digg and Delicious explicitly ranked Web content, crowdsourcing the function of the Google spiders.