Today, Facebook announced it's new search tool called Graph Search for locating information on people, places, interests, photos, music, restaurants, and more.
Graph Search is still in beta, so you have to sign up in Facebook to get on the waiting list to use it.
But Facebook is throwing down the gauntlet to Google by using natural language queries to search by just asking the question in plain language like: "my friends that like Rocky" and up comes those smart ladies and gents.
But Graph Search is not just a challenge to Google, but to other social media tools and recommendation engines like Yelp and Foursquare, and even LinkedIn, which is now widely used for corporate recruiting.
Graph Search uses the Bing search engine and it's secret sauce according to CNN is that is culls information from over 1 billion Facebook accounts, 24 billion photos, and 1 trillion connections--so there is an enormous and growing database to pull from.
So while the average Facebook user has about 190 connections, some people have as many as 5,000 and like the now antiquated business card file or Rolodex, all the people in your social network can provide important opportunities to learn and share. And while in the aggregate six degrees of separation, none of us are too far removed from everyone else anyway, we can still only Graph Search people and content in our network.
Interestingly enough, while Facebook rolls out Graph Search to try to capitalize on its treasure trove personal data and seemingly infinite connections, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (10 January 2013) ran an article called "The Dunbar Number" about how the human brain can only handle up to "150 meaningful relationships."
Whether hunter-gather clans, military units, corporate divisions, or an individual's network of family, friends, and colleagues--our brain "has limits" and 150 is it when it comes to substantial real world or virtual relationships--our brains have to process all the facets involved in social interactions from working together against outside "predators" to guarding against "bullies and cheats" from within the network.
According to Dunbar, digital technologies like the Internet and social media, while enabling people to grow their virtual Rolodex, does not really increase our social relationships in the real meaning of the word.
So with Graph Search, while you can mine your network for great talent, interesting places to visit, or restaurants to eat at, you are still fundamentally interacting with your core 150 when it comes to sharing the joys and challenges of everyday life. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)