Personal Network Search

Most every blog these days has a “Search this Blog” widget on the side. So if you have a blog and Joe Reader thinks you know something about “knitting”, he can search for all that you’ve written on the subject from one little widget. A perfect way for Joe to tap your expertise, right?

You and your blog

Unless, of course, you create content in places besides your blog. What about your photos on Flickr, or your resume on LinkedIn, or your MySpace page, or your second (or third) blog, or all those other trendy Web 3.x beta round-edged services you use? If you’ve got some great knitting information in those other places, poor Joe won’t find them from your widget. Wouldn’t it be great if all of your content could be searched in one place?

You and all the places you create content

And beyond the works that you create, what about the content that you’ve marked as good stuff? Pages you’ve bookmarked on Delicious, stories you’ve dug on Digg, sites you’ve thumbed-up in StumbleUpon? If you really are a knitting expert there must be some really good knitting resources in there too. But Joe won’t find them. Wouldn’t it be great if all your metadata could be searched in one place too?

You and all the places you create content, and all the content you’ve bookmarked

Taking it all one big step further: What about the other people that you connect to? The blogs in your blogroll, or your friends in the zillion social networks that you use. Again, if you really are a knitting expert, you probably link to other experts. They might have written or bookmarked some stuff that is exactly what Joe’s looking for. Wouldn’t it be great if this magic search could also include content and bookmarks from the people in your network, people that you trust?

You and all the places you create content, and all the content you’ve bookmarked, and all the people who you are connected to

So this is what we’ve created at Lijit. Mostly. We call it “Personal Network Search”. (It was originally called “Personal Vertical Search” which is maybe more accurate, but who –besides my astute readers– knows what “vertical search” is?!)

Other vertical searches invariably slice up the web by topic or format: e.g. Froogle does shopping, Like does images. That’s cool and all, but the oldest vertical search is to ask people who you know. That’s basically what we’re trying to bring to the web.

You can see it in the sidebar of my blog, right below my picture on the right.

For example, try searching me about “social networks” or “attention“.

So what do you think? Give it a whirl. If you’re a blogger, try setting up your own search and see how it does for you. Please let me know how it goes.

Read more about Personal Network Search at Todd’s blog.


Caveats: We’re currently using Google Co-op as our search technology, but it doesn’t give us as much control as we’d like. For instance, there’s no way to force your content to come up higher in search results than folks in your network. It also has trouble with terms which bring back tons of results in normal search results. So if you search me for “sex” you’ll get stuff from BoingBoing (a high PageRank site) but not my infamous post “Attention is Meme Sex” like you might expect. We’re talking with the Google folks and evaluating other search engine options…I’ll keep you posted!