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[ NNSquad ] Re: Google, Governments, and the Control of Search Results

On 5/14/2012 9:33 PM, Lauren Weinstein wrote:
> Concepts such as "search neutrality" would be a death knell to
> genuinely useful, reliable, and trustworthy search results, and
> provide the government with an unprecedented ability to control the
> presentation of Internet information as it sees fit, now and into the
> future.
> Personally, I very much prefer to have search results decisions in the
> hands of Google, and Bing, and the other organizations whose agenda is
> providing maximally *useful* information for the global community of
> Internet users.

Of course, Google and M$ do this, not because of some altruistic desire 
to help people (or at least not principally).  They do it because 
whoever does the best job of presenting the morass of information that 
is the Web in a useful manner, will get the most visitors and make the 
most advertising $$.

Google is in this to make money.  They have simply decided that they 
will make money in a "non-evil" manner.  FOr which they deserve kudos -- 
many major corporations do not care how evil they are, as long as they 
can rake in the $$.

They are also aware that, any time somebody else does a better job of 
organizing that information, people will leave them and move to that 
somebody else.  This gives them a *huge* incentive to keep on organizing 
the info in a way that is useful to most people.  I can imagine a 
meeting, some bright person, who hasn't been around long enough to 
absorb the culture, suggests they could make more money by sneaking 
sites that pay them into a higher position in the "organic" results.

And the people who have been around longer point out that, the instant 
they do that, somebody else will take over, do it right, and "eat their 

Because there is no monopoly in search engines.  When I want to search I 
can go to Google, or Bing, or Yahoo!(*), or ask.com, or dozens of 
others.  Including some I remember from the early and mid-90s: Altavista 
is still out there.  So is Dogpile. (I just checked)

And any time Google proves less useful than one of the competitors, 
people will desert Google for that competitor. In droves.  The only 
"monopoly" Google has is a "monopoly" on providing the best results. 
Nothing restricts consumer choice of search engines in any way.  (AT 
least, not in the US.  In Iran, perhaps you can't even access Google.)

> Enforced "search neutrality" could easily mean the end of search as we
> know it, and the beginning of a broad, encompassing,
> government-mandated Internet information control dominion.

Very true.  But you have to give the proponents of "search neutrality" 
credit.  They borrow our idea, "Net Neutrality," and use it to attack 
what is truly useful.

But Google _isn't_ a monopoly. THere is no barrier to entry.  If I can 
figure out a better way to do a search engine, I can buy a bunch of 
disks and a few racks, pile a bunch of servers in the racks, and hook 
them up to my router.  Then go announce my engine wherever I can, and 
hope people will come.  And if mine is better, I will get users 
eyeballs, and once I have the eyeballs I can get advertising revenue and 
buy more disks and racks and servers, and collocate with some ISP, and 
eventually collocate all over the place like Google does.

BUt only if I can design a better search engine.  Of course, that will 
never happen.  I was a programmer for 45 years.  I could make computers 
sit up and do tricks, but I couldn't come up with a business model if my 
life depended on it.

So I'm very glad that Google is out there, because I use them several 
times every day.  And sometimes Bing, and sometimes Ask.

(*) I remember the early days of Yahoo!, when stuff was organized into 
categories.  I always found the categories more useful than the raw 
search capability, and I was unhappy when Yahoo! dropped that feature.
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