Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Expertise from Google rankings and CiteSeer

Not long ago I wrote about how browser add-ons like Outfoxed combine Google rankings with personal factors. Let me clarify my own thoughts and point out that Google rankings are really not so distinct from personal factors. That's because each time someone adds a link from one website to another, that is effectively a personal recommendation, which gets automatically incorporated into Google's rankings.

The implications of this are huge. See "Just Googling it is striking fear into the hearts of companies," an article from the NY Times of Nov 6, 2005, which aptly describes how Google and its ilk are "delivering results that are more and more like the advice of a trusted expert." Or, as Professor David B. Yoffie at Harvard Business School says in the same article, "Google is the realization of everything we thought the Internet was going to be but wasn't until Google."

For an example of how Google-rankings (or something similar) are providing trusted expert advice directly relevant to my readership, check out CiteSeer. This website of computer science publications tracks citations from one paper to another, giving it remarkable insight into the degree of relatedness and relative significance of the nearly one million papers in its archives.

That means that average people are much less dependant than they used to be on the real experts of the world to find just the information they're looking for. For example, anyone with an Internet connection can go to CiteSeer, look up what's been published about "social networks," and then automatically zoom in on the most influential "hub" publications that introduce major sub-topics--whatever those sub-topics may be. See my new "Technically Speaking" link at right to do just that. You can also ask CiteSeer to list publications according to how "hot" they are--specifically how many times are they expected to be cited by other papers this year, based on past trends. To try that yourself, just click on the link, "Tech II: What's Hot," which is also included in the right sidebar.

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