November 5th, 2007 | Published in Google Orkut
It was party time the other day when we launched SMS Search in India. We have a team with diverse tastes and opinions; finding a restaurant to satisfy all was an unenviable task that somehow landed on my plate. In a fit of inspiration, I decided to use the new orkut feature we had launched just recently, it was time to test its potential to help me ask questions of friends who knew my tastes and preferences.
I turned on the "ask friends" feature from the "add stuff" page, brought up the feature from my left nav bar and typed in: "Can you suggest a location in Bangalore that has good North Indian food, a themed restaurant and really super dessert options nearby? And in case we change our mind, it would be ideal to have Mexican or South Indian food not too far from this location."
This was a challenging question and I didn't know who among my friends would be able answer it. So I chose the "Ask among friends" option, and decided to let the system route the question to some of my orkut friends. I was hoping that the system would find friends who had answered similar questions or were resident experts on restaurants unknown to me.
I got three useful answers. But the answer that really helped came from my HR colleague and orkut friend who happened to be browsing my orkut profile. I scrapped back a heartfelt thank you.
Then it was time to find out how many of my teammates would actually turn up for the party. So I accessed "ask friends" again and typed in another question: "Got a really promising place for the party. Are you coming? You can also call and let me know on my cell". This time I chose the "Ask individual friends" option because I didn't want all of my orkut friends to know about the party and call me.
Over the next day all of them said yes; there were the usual wisecracks that you have to expect from my team. I was able to see all the answers in one place in the "ask friends" feature, find the phone number of the restaurant (using SMS Search, of course) and make a reservation. We had a fun party. It was cool to use this feature to ask friends questions that got me personalized answers.