For more than a decade, Google search wasn’t “social” in any way. When I searched for a new car or a European hotel or the best way to plunge a toilet, Google would give me results that reflected the collected view of all Web users. That worked really well!

Not once during those years did I get to a Google results page and lament that I couldn’t see my friends’ ideas about the car I should buy or the hotel I ought to book. While my friends are thoughtful and knowledgeable people, their views on the tens of thousands of large and small inquiries that I bring to Google every year are almost always irrelevant. When I’ve got a clogged toilet, I want advice from an expert—a plumber, preferably, but I’ll even take the stranger who wrote this eHow post. What I don’t want to know is which link my boss consulted when his toilet was clogged.