I’m not sure how many of you have followed the announcement of the Google 1+ button. If you haven’t seen them yet, you’ll start seeing them sprinkled all over the internet soon. I just added them to a couple of my sites including EMR and HIPAA. You can see it next to the Facebook button on the right side of each post. Feel free to click it if you’re reading a post that you like. It’s a simple action which can tell me a lot about whether people like the post or not.
Of course, I’ve been using social media indicators like this for a while. For example, I’ve known the number of people who tweeted out my various posts on Twitter. I often can see how many times an article gets published on Facebook. I always love to get feedback like this that tells me that someone liked the article I created. However, often tweeting a link or sharing a link on Facebook is more than someone wants to do. The Google 1+ is an even simpler and more anonymous way of telling a blogger or other website that you like what they’ve created. I’m interested to see how many people are willing to take the simple step of clicking the Google plus 1 button when they like a post.
However, beyond the benefit to a blogger of knowing which content its readers like, Google is no doubt going to use this information as well to create more targeted search results (and likely ads as well). Some people bristle at the idea that Google would have this information. However, I don’t have any problem with it. In fact, I like that Google will be able to provide me a better service. For example, if I search for EMR on Google, they should know I want to know about electronic medical record sites and not the EMR paintball one. I think data like the plus 1 could help Google to improve that experience for me. That’s a good thing.
I’ve been really interested in these social media indicators and the influence that someone can have online. For example, just because someone has a lot of followers, does that make them an authority? What if you find some health information online? How do you know the quality of that information? What if you’re searching for EMR software? How do you evaluate the quality of the information that’s being provided? What about any biases that information might have? Can social indicators help you to improve your understanding of the quality of the information?
I’m not sure the answers to many of these questions, but I do think there’s power in a crowd of people expressing their opinions on a subject. Even something as simple as clicking on a Google plus one benefit. Will it cure Cancer? No. However, it can still have a profound impact on the way we discover information and how we help others understand the quality of that information.