Google wants to know what it feels like to be Digg.
Google Labs is testing a new-fangled search page where users can "vote" on all those links that pop up after a keyword query. If you like a link, you hit the "like it" button. If you don't like it, you hit the "don't like it" button. And in Digg-like fashion, these clicks move items up or down the list.
But your votes aren't used to influence the results of other users. Unlike Digg, this Google experiment is merely a means of tweaking content inside your own browser. Each time you search on the same keyword, your past votes come into play. Any modified links are tagged with a big orange asterisk.
"This experiment lets you influence your search experience by adding, moving, and removing search results," Google explains. "When you search for the same keywords again, you'll continue to see those changes. If you later want to revert your changes, you can undo any modifications you've made."
The page also includes a "Know of a better webpage?" link, where you can recommend additional links. Again, these changes will pop up the next time you search on the same keyword. Naturally, you'll need a Google account, and you'll have to be logged in for all this to work.
The question is whether you'll want it to work. Is all this even remotely valuable? A keyword search is all about finding sites you haven't found in the past. If you stumble onto a site that's valuable, you bookmark it. Who cares if it pops to the top when you do the same search a second time?
Of course, this experiment could be extended. Google could in fact use your votes to influence search results across the web. But unless you believe in all that Web 2.0 nonsense, this sort of user-generated results page makes even less sense.
Word of this experiment has popped up here, but it's not open to the web at large. According to a Google spokeswoman, only a "small percentage of people" were invited to participate. But even for these folks, it will be available for "a few weeks" only. ®