Social Bookmarking versus Search Engines

It’s interesting that I’ve been thinking of this topic for some time and realised that it will never properly work in the wide open World of the Internet, for there is no social self-control for people, they can shout, abuse others, scream like a child, and do all the socially taboo things that just aren’t done in public. There is no control over these people in the Internet apart from enforced third part censorship. Therefore social bookmarking, as I’ve written about before, becomes a select group’s sanctioned favourites, allowing the rest of the Internet to vote on them.

However in an organisation where social self-control is present throughout every action, even with employees hidden behind the keyboard and screen of a computer. At all times the corporate responsibility is close to the forefront of the employees mind, and therefore no matter what the media or content, they remain socially acceptable and self-controlled.

This means that the Organisation is ideal for such collaborative concepts as wikis, blogs, discussion groups, instant messaging and social bookmarking.

In an organisation Social Bookmarking can be used much more positively and openly than on the Internet, and this opens up the idea that Social Bookmarking really could replace the Search Engine.

A Search Engine isn’t relevant. It doesn’t know what the top issues are of the day, what is affecting the searcher at a ground level, what the priorities are for the team, department or organisation are that day, what the searches are in reference to, etc. Yet people do.

Therefore asking a computer to identify key phrases through documents across multiple computer systems will still return a list of results that are only relevant to the entered keywords. These results need to be filtered by a human, someone who understands these priorities and requirements, most often than not the person reading through the results for the answer they are after.

So why not drop the Search Engine totally and implement Social Bookmarking as the organisations Search Engine?

Employees bookmark the pages they use most often, instead of the bookmark being saved in the desktop browser it records the details of the page to a central storage area marked against the employees name. The employee also records tags against the item, short identifiable words that reference the bookmark as well as define the genre and classification of the bookmark. For example “e-learning, elearning, web-based-training, WBT, Customer Concerns”

The employee can now see this bookmark wherever they go within the organisation as long as they have access to this website either as their homepage or viewed elsewhere using content feeds.

Not only can they see their own bookmarks but they can connect to others in the organisation. They could merge or overlay other employees bookmarks onto their own, or select some to add. All the while the system is recording the names and numbers of those who have bookmarked the page. As the employees share their bookmarks they are displayed to everyone else on the main page.

On this main page the shared bookmarks are displayed and employees can rate links either by adding them to their own bookmark list, or by selecting an up arrow, one vote is allowed per employee. A down vote is also available to mark the item down.

When the Employee needs to find information they can then either display the entire bookmarked catalogue by vote order, or perform a search for a specific tag, for instance e-learning. This immediately lists all those bookmarked pages marked by other employees as e-learning, again allowing the Employee to list in vote order.

Suddenly the results are far more relevant than just blindly searching for the occurrence of words throughout content and displaying the results as interpreted by a computer. Now the results shown are ones which the Employee has identified as being relevant, and are sorted with the page the Employees deem as being most relevant at the top.

The other option for Social Bookmarking is for the entire organisations Intranet to be viewed in a browser frame, this frame controls the Employees rating of pages and is shown on every single page visited. For new pages the rating system is blank or greyed out, let us say it is represented as five stars, and for pages where the Employee is returning, it shows their last rating.

To rate a page the Employee simply selects the position of the star along the row of five to mark how many they are rating the page. A text entry box also allows for the entry of relevant tags as described above. This is sent back to a central location and stored.

When a search is requested by the Employee it relies on the provided tags and displays in order of Employee rating.

Either method provides a more relevant search result, almost like a human Search Engine.

Combining a reference to date and time stamps with the results listing would make for time sensitive, human filtered results.

Those pages whose ranking drops and drops would be easily identifiable as either useless or superseded and would naturally identify themselves as being prime for removal or rework. Likewise it will also indicate to an organisation were and what the relevant content is, what pages, individuals, teams and departments are being marked as most popular and relevant.

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