Google Social Search Goes Public Beta; Will Norris Joins Social Web Team

Google is in a social mood, announcing the public beta release of its Social Search and adding programmer and open-standards guru Will Norris to its Social Web team.

The search-engine giant released Social Search on an experimental basis last year, allowing users to see content from their friends and contacts alongside the content typically uncovered by the search engine.

Maureen Heymans
, technical lead for Social Search, and Terran Melconian, technical lead for Social Image Search, posted on the Google Blog:

While we’ve been enjoying Social Search (and having babies), we’ve been hard at work on new features. For example, we’ve added social to Google Images. Now when you’re doing a search on Images, you may start seeing pictures from people in your social circle. These are pictures that your friends and other contacts have published publicly to the Web on photo-sharing sites like Picasa Web Albums and Flickr. Just like the other social results, social image results appear under a special heading called “Results from your social circle.”

You may notice two new links for “My social circle” and “My social content.” These links will take you to a new interface we’ve added where you can see the connections and content behind your social results. Clicking on “My social circle” shows your extended network of online contacts and how you’re connected.

Clicking on “My social content” lists your public pages that might appear in other people’s social results. This new interface should give you a peek under the hood of how Social Search builds your social circle and connects you with Web content from your friends and extended network. You can check out your social circle directly by visiting this link. (Note that it may take some time for the connections and content to update.)

As for Norris, he joins former Plaxo chief technology officer Joseph Smarr and Web designer and consultant Chris Messina (a member of the OpenID Foundation and Open Web Foundation) on the Social Web team, CNET reported.

Norris posted on his blog:

I’m happy to announce today that I’ve accepted a job at Google, working on the newly formed Social Web team. I will be joining fellow new-hires Joseph Smarr and Chris Messina, as well as a host of other incredibly talented engineers, in contributing to the emerging standards and growing developer community in this space.

Instead of the long contemplative post on how this move is the next logical step in a career of working in identity management, I’ll keep it short. I start work next Monday, Feb. 1, and I’m a bit preoccupied this week with getting moved from Portland, Ore., down to Half Moon Bay, Calif.