Their tagline says it all: "Be Social when you surf the web". Me.dium, the social browsing software company, has jumped at the chance to develop a custom search engine based on Yahoo Search BOSS. They call it "Social Search" and claim it's the first crowd-powered search engine to hit the internet.
Kimbal Musk, CEO of Me.dium says, “Using the activity of our community and our real time technology platform, users see search results ranked by what the crowds are surfing right now.”
The search engine - which you can try out now in Alpha, provides you search results not based on spiders and robots but on what real people are actually looking at -- in real time.
Social Search "shows you the most popular news, reviews, pictures and videos that other people are actually looking at in relation to your search term".
It does this by leveraging Yahoo BOSS -- the new Build Your Own Search Engine web service from Yahoo!. Me.dium leverages the Yahoo search infrastructure and combines it with result from their own Social Toolbar to provide real time crowd-based search results.
The Wisdom of the Crowds
Who are the Crowds? They are people who have downloaded and are actively using the Me.dium Social Toolbar. The toolbar is a social surfing application used by over 2 million people -- or downloaded by that many at least -- that allows you to surf the web with your friends, see where they are online, communicate across web pages and so on.
Me.dium calculates something they call CrowdRank -- a combination of recent activity for a page, how connected it is to other related pages and any recent changes in activity. "The final search results you get in Me.dium Social Search are determined by a combination of how well the terms on a page match to your search query and its Me.dium CrowdRank value."
And if nobody has visited a relevant page? "you will find a list of results from traditional search based on text analysis, page linkage, etc."
You Don't Have to Use the Social Toolbar
You don't have to download and use the Social Toolbar yourself to use the Social Search, but your own searching and web usage will not be considered as part of the equation if you don't. According to Mashable.com,"What’s intriguing about Me.dium’s approach is that there really isn’t anything users need to do to feed in data other than keep browsing the Web with the Me.dium toolbar installed, and Me.dium has already established a significant userbase."
They don't think it's going to takeover search completely, but the social movement is so big today that we expect they will see significant usage -- particularly at the outset -- as people like to know what's really popular among other people, and most of us don't really understand how that Google pagerank is really working do we?