Over on Google+, I have linked to articles on Google Authorship a couple of times, but the time has come for a full blog post. This new feature, announced last year, is I think going to be one of the biggest changes to the internet, in that it will change the way people expect to search for content.
So what is it? When you run a Google search, you expect to see a series of links to content that is relevant to your search. Google's Authorship initiative is their attempt to connect content on the internet to the creators of that content. What it looks like is that underneath a link in search results, the picture & name of the content creator will show up. The identity shown for the author is from the author's profile on Google+. In other words, a Google search returns not only the links to content you are looking for, but it connects to those links a direct way to the person who wrote the content.
I think it is incredibly valuable to content creators to get in on this early, and start connecting your Google+ profile to the content that you create on the internet. Blogs are an obvious starting point. On the user/content creator end, you have to link to the sites you write in your G+ profile by inserting links into your "Contributor To" section. On the other side of the coin, websites that host your content must do the necessary work to make sure your content is connected back to your G+ profile. When you have control of both, the connection is fairly easy to make. There are a number of articles on this topic out there with specifics on how to set this up, and this one is the best I've seen.
I've connected the content I write for this blog to my profile as well as the content I write for our department blog. It took a little while to start seeing changes in search results, but as of a couple of days ago I'm now seeing my author profile under the links to these two sites when they show up in search results. Here's an example of how the links to a couple of fairly recent posts I made on this blog now show up in search results:
I really hope this doesn't come across as egotistical! Rather, imagine what this can do for science - if search results for science content were connected to the creators of that content. What if author profiles would come connected with search results in Google Scholar. Search results could not only turn up science links, but connections to the people who created that content. The problem currently is that many sites don't have the proper set up to connect content to a G+ profile. I would love to see abstracts from professional meetings, such as the Geological Society of America, to be able to be linked in this fashion, as well as full journal articles. This could be tremendous for science & science education. Why? Because the connection becomes more personal, more human.
If you're interested & want to see what more results for my stuff looks like, type in "Appalachian Field Trip" into a Google Search. Since Google search is user specific, you may need to force Google search to find my stuff on this topic by adding "Carrigan" to the search terms.
Well, what do you think? Could this be good for science? Going to set yours up now? :-) I'd love to hear about others' success stories!