Last night Google officially launched its SearchWiki function. Now you can customize your own search results—upgrading the best, deleting the worst and adding notes to any you like. It is, in characteristic Google fashion, straightforward and ridiculously easy to use. It is also—for a company that tends to follow the release early and often dictum by quietly adding upgrades and features with little fanfare—an uncharacteristic hard launch. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb notes, "We expect this to be a very big deal. ... This isn't Google Labs, this isn't a little project off to the side, apparently there's a Google Search Wiki team and they have access to the primary search results page."
So what's wiki about it? While your changes only affect your own searches, you can also view everyone else's edits by clicking on the "See all notes for this SearchWiki" link at the bottom of any search page. This could become a real acid test for crowdsourcing. Since its release today, SearchWiki has already generated—shocking, this—much commentary in the search results for "Obama." This contains such gems as "Hi there!!!" and "Obamanation!" Google has written Digg style voting function into the comments, so we can hope that in time the more inane commentary gets voted out of view. But if I learned anything in the research for my book, it was that bigger crowds invariably lead to exponential increases in idiocy. SearchWiki could revolutionize search, or it could just attract a global army of trolls. Time will tell. While we wait, here are some first-blush reactions from across the Intertubes:
• Michael Arrington asks: If it ain't broke, why fix it?
• Official Google Blog on the release
• John Battelle wonders whether people want customized results.
• and VentureBeat says SearchWiki proves that despite its size Google retains the ability to reinvent itself.
Finally, here's the official Google video explainer: