Google Social Search update, having your cake, US digital divide

You may start seeing more friends and colleagues in your search results as Google continues to take increasing notice of social media sites, expanding the Social Search feature it launched in 2009.

The company will now mix social search results throughout query results based on their relevance (in the past they only appeared at the bottom) and add notes for links people have shared on Twitter and other sites.

The expanded Social Search will be rolled out over the next couple of weeks, but only on Google.com and only in English for now (this video shows how it should work).

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Voltaire’s famous quote would likely have been rather less noteworthy had it read: “As long as I agree with what you say, I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

But it was with a straight face that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton championed the freedom of expression that social networks like Facebook and Twitter allow even as the US moves to curb expression – in the form of unpalatable leaks – that it doesn’t like.

She was trying to reconcile the “security” demands of WikiLeaks with the enabling role of social media in the Egyptian revolution. Security demands are clearly in the eye of the beholder, as erstwhile Egyptian President Hosni Mubarack’s unsuccessful ploy to stifle opposition by turning off the Internet showed.

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A new project has illustrated the scale of the digital divide in the US, at least when it comes to broadband.

The National Broadband Map is the first public, searchable map of broadband access and shows where a broadband Internet service is available, the technology used to provide the service, the maximum advertised speeds of the service, and the names of the broadband providers.

Anne Neville, Director of State Broadband Initiative at the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration, wrote of her hope the map will help to “bridge the technological divide, expand economic opportunities and leverage the power of broadband to address many of the nation’s most pressing challenges”.

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