Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Faceted search: one take on Facebook's new Graph Search vs. other search services

Faceted search is search where the domain being search is filtered by categories or some taxonomy. Individuals become first class objects in Facebook's new Graph Search and (apparently) search is relative to a node in their social graph that represents the Facebook user, other users they are connected with, and data for connected users.

I don't yet have access to Facebook's new Graph Search but I have no reason to doubt that as it evolves both Facebook users and Facebook's customers (i.e., advertisers and other organizations that make money from user data) should be happy with the service.

Google's Knowledge Graph and their search in general are also personalized per user. Once again this is made possible by collecting data on users and monetizing by providing this information to their customers (i.e., once more, advertisers, etc.)

Pardon a plug for the Evernote service (I am a happy paying customer): Evernote serves as private search. Throw everything relavant to my digital life into Evernote, and I can later search "just my stuff." I don't doubt that Evernote somehow also makes money by aggregating user information.

I assume that any 3rd party web service I use is somehow monetizing on data about me. I decide to use 3rd services more for the value they provide since my cynical self assumes the worse about privacy.

Dealing with faceted search and graph databases at Facebook and Google scale is an engineering art form. Fortunately for the rest of us, frameworks/libraries like Solr (faceted search) and Neo4J (a very easy to use graph database) make it straight forward to experiment with and use the same technologies, but admittedly without the advantage of very large data stores.

4 comments:

patrickdlogan said...

"I assume that any 3rd party web service I use is somehow monetizing on data about me."

This is one thing that appeals to me about the "unhosted" movement: when you use an unhosted web app, that app follows the remotestorage specification. Remote storage allows you to choose where to host your own data via a simple protocol.

This is akin to using an app on your laptop and storing your data on your own file system on your own LAN.

This is fairly new... but hopefully will turn into something.

https://unhosted.org
http://remotestorage.io

Since our own graphs are fairly small, I could envision having an unhosted app work with my graph, which I own on my own remote storage, and integrate/federate that graph with the portions of the graphs my connected friends elect to share with me.

Mark Watson, author and consultant said...

Thanks Patrick - I bookmarked those links and will check them out.

Jaimie Sirovich said...

Funny. I was thinking about Facebook's new faceted search on steroids, then accidentally picked up a book of yours from 1994 on C++ and portable GUIs in Win32, MacOS, and OS/2. Looks like you have a simple inverted index buried in that book. A really simple one =) But it's easily recognized.

Here we are something like 20 years later talking about faceted search, which still uses the venerable inverted index (usually anyway).

I'm sure most of me is in an inverted index somewhere, no doubt answering facts about which soft drink I am going to buy next.

=)

Jaimie Sirovich said...

Funny. I was thinking about Facebook's new faceted search on steroids, then accidentally picked up a book of yours from 1994 on C++ and portable GUIs in Win32, MacOS, and OS/2. Looks like you have a simple inverted index buried in that book. A really simple one =) But it's easily recognized.

Here we are something like 20 years later talking about faceted search, which still uses the venerable inverted index (usually anyway).

I'm sure most of me is in an inverted index somewhere, no doubt answering facts about which soft drink I am going to buy next.

=)