Business Week has an article outlining some of the 'social search' developments underway at Microsoft. What is 'social searching'?:

"Microsoft plans to unveil a question-and-answer social-search tool in the coming months, says Justin Osmer, senior product manager for MSN. The feature will let users direct questions to a specific universe, such as a group of friends, rather than to get automated lists of results from a generic search engine"

In the same article, it hints at similar efforts by Yahoo and Google but points out that the advantage that Microsoft has over competitors is the 205 million IM and 230 active Hotmail users.

(I should point out my usual disclaimer at this point and explain that I'm not privvy to any of Microsoft's social search product plans at this stage).

It's an interesting direction and one that follows on from the 'using your social network as a filter' idea. Today, the 'live' internet of content is filtered via my OPML file (and anyone esle that is using an RSS reader). The blogs posts I read, articles pointed out and discussed, photos and music suggested happens mainly via my OPML file. My OPML file is one cut of my various social networks. Extending this to the 'liveness' of knowledge in the form of instant answers via your social network looks set to be a major area of innovation over the next couple of years. 

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Update: Memorandum and Megite have some good links to others' thoughts on the story.

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