Wow. Google's swamped. They're looking for a way to quantify relevance, and they're going social. It guess it's the obvious choice, but it's fraught with risks.
The problem is not immediately obvious, but it's real. Picture the social Internet in 1964. You're a white guy researching Martin Luther King Jr.'s attempt to change America in a very good way, and Google keeps returning results from within your social bubble, results your friends like. You, very naturally, hear your own pre-curiosity opinion echoing back to you. Your neighbors and friends keep +1'ing articles pointing out how King's a womanizer and commie-sympathizer, so you search and keep learning what you already know.
Apply the same formula for relevance to Iraqi WMD, or Palestinian statehood, or the recent riots in Britain and you have a world-changing issue. The problem is one of relevance, though. How does Google know which articles are "real", much less relevant, strictly from internal content and external links. Google's algorithm worked magic back in the '0X's, but in the second decade of our century the haystack is too large even for Google. And there are too many infectious hypodermics hidden alongside the nice little needles we all seek.
I wish them luck. We're all going to need it.
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