Delver, which came out of stealth back in January is announcing today that its social graph search engine is open to the public. While the product certainly is intriguing, curb your expectations as Delver has slapped an “Alpha” status on it.
The objective behind Delver is to uncover and make accessible knowledge and information that is hidden in users’ social graphs—an area that Google’s Marissa Mayer has indicated to be an essential part of Google’s future search offerings.
Delver begins by mapping direct and implicit connections. For example, Delver would discover that Mark Hendrickson, Jason Kincaid and I are all related to each other through TechCrunch. In Mark’s case it would be due to a direct connection with me on Facebook. In Jason’s case it would be an implicit connection because he wrote in his LinkedIn profile that he works for TechCrunch.
Once these connections are mapped, Delver lets users leverage their social graph to perform web searches. The results themselves are ranked based on their social relevance. A breadcrumb indicates the results’ origin in respect to the users’ social graph—using the example above: Me >> Mark Hendrickson >> Jason Kincaid.
This Alpha launch marks the first time Delver’s search engine has been available to the public. It’s a brave move by Delver because the product is far from perfect. So in order to set the appropriate level of expectations, take the following into consideration if you take it out for a spin:
First, there are users who will find limited results because their personal social graphs are incomplete. Delver still has a lot of social graph crawling and parsing to do. That said, the Alpha launch encompasses the profiles of 40 million MySpace users, 30 million Hi5 users, 2.5 million Facebook users, 1.5 million Blogger users, 3 million Flickr users and 300,000 Digg users.
Second, if you’re expecting a streamlined user experience à la Google, then prepare yourself for a serious feature over-kill. Liad Agmon, Delver’s CEO, explained to me that the reason for this is the fact that aside from a destination play, Delver is also packaging itself as a white label social graph search engine. The excess in features are options that social networks could theoretically pick-and-choose from in order to customize Delvers’ engine for integration.
Delver took upon itself an ambitious challenge and it’s still too early to tell whether it will become a player in social graph search. Nonetheless, their offering is a compelling one.
The big questions are: Do you need a separate engine to search your personal social graph, or will Google eventually do it better? And is search even the right metaphor when you can subscribe to your friend’s feeds across all social networks and media using services such as FriendFeed?