Search tool Wajam is rolling out a new feature today to its browser extension that overlays links shared by your friends on Twitter and Facebook at the top of the page when you perform a search on Google. (Or Bing.) Now Wajam puts a sidebar on the search results page when you’re looking for something in a particular location.

Looking for a restaurant in Portland, or a vintage store in San Francisco? Now Wajam will show you who you know that lives in that city, what content they’ve shared concerning places there and any photos they’ve taken there. It looks like a great way to be reminded to look up online friends when you travel to a new real-world location.

It’s a smart move for the startup to make, but time will tell whether it’s really a good fit with the needs of consumers.

Social networks provide a huge river of data, which has location associated with it more and more often these days. Many startups believe that there are big businesses to build creating ways to use that data to add value to peoples’ other online activities.

Is place-based social network data useful when extracted from the streams it’s born in and placed selectively beside search results? Maybe. I like the idea a lot.

Is place-based social network data useful when extracted from the streams it’s born in and placed selectively beside search results? Maybe. I like the idea a lot.

Last month, Wajam added Google Plus contacts lists to their sources. I find the Wajam overlay interface less convenient than I wish it was, but my brain is trained to scan for the top one to three results on Google and skip everything else on the page. I suspect I am not alone in that.

Someone is going to find the perfect place to make use of geo-located social network activity data, though. Maybe it is on top of search results. Maybe it’s for real-time location queries ala Localmind. Maybe the solution lies in an app that hasn’t been built yet but will leverage data from SimpleGeo, Factual or Infochimps.

Someone, somewhere, somehow is going to find the perfect place to put this data that emerges when we look at where place and social contacts intersect. Probably more than just one somebody. Maybe Wajam’s newest iteration will catch on.

marshall kirkpatrick