Social Search Series: This summer I am embarking on a journey through on the emerging web of Social Search. Traditionally known as the Questions & Answers industry, this category is currently being transformed by social and mobile technologies. No more asking a site questions and finding old answers. I believe the future of the web is ingrained in the dynamic interdependence of social and informational networks. This is part VI of the series. For background, check out the previous articles Part I here and part II and Part III, Part IV and Part V here.
Through this series I have touched upon the new way we are discovering and interacting with and information on the web. I have detailed how old question and answer models are being disrupted and re-engineered to form the new way find information. LOCQL, LocalUncle, Aardvark, Wajam and many others are making inroads on the social search frontier.
Another startup I previously covered, Localmind, who also just packed up and made the proverbial move to San Fransisco, is making a few big announcements today.
Today they are releasing a few more feature enhancements which will change the way we will discover and share information within our local communities.
Answering With An Image
First, with the Localmind application, you can now pack a thousand words into your answer by including a photo. For instance, when someone asks the question “how busy is it at the bar?” you normally would need to respond with some text, including a bit of context which wastes precious character count space. Now, you can point, click and send.
Here’s a quick video of how it works. Pretty cool.
Imagine using this feature to search a stadium full of fans at a football game to get exact information on a particular game, with images of the players, from various view points all around the stadium… all in real time. That’s called the future of social search ladies and gentleman.
According Localmind CEO Lenny Rachitsky, this was the largest requested feature since they launched the first version. “People are used to taking photos with their phone. People always want to see what’s happening… it’s not just posting photos, it’s an exact answer…“
Adding Conversation and Opinion
The next feature being released is a subtle but important one: answering a question that has already been answered by someone else. When using the app, people wanted to add their own opinion and context to a Localmind question. The new feature allows people to answer a question that has already been answered, thus creating a conversation around local information.
This is the evolution on the local search space I have been talking about for some time, the inevitable transition from the 10 blue links on a page to a more contextual, relevant and accurate search experience powered by your contacts and the people around you everyday. Adding comments and conversation around interactions within Localmind bridges the gap from spam and irrelevance and brings us into the new realm of local social discovery.
Also included in this new release is the ability add your identity when you, as a user, answer a question. Until now, when a user answered a question, they were completely anonymous. Now you have an opportunity to leave your identity (and see a profile of another user), removing privacy but making the platform more authentic and accurate. Rachitsky noted they were initially concerned about identity and defaulted the platform to anonymous responses, but realised that is not a big issue and now have changed it so users can choose the way they interact with Localmind.
Now you see why the name Localmind is quite accurate, and what they could possibly become – a central nervous system of the local community. I see it… do you?