Monday, December 17, 2007

Searching Google: Objective?

On Dec. 15, the New York Times's business/technology section carried an article about Google's project "Knol" - which they portrayed as a competitor to Wikipedia. Possibly the NYT's article was based on a blog entry from Google itself.

While Knol interests me, I find these two sentences from the NYT article - particularly the latter - even more amazing:
If it attracts a following, the service could accelerate Google’s transformation from a search engine into a company that helps create and publish Web content. Some critics said that shift could compromise Google’s objectivity in presenting search results.
Come now, is there anyone left who believes that Google's results are objective? Why else do Wikipedia entries often come up near the top?! It's been confirmed to me by two separate people, working for two separate companies that in order to receive better rankings in Google - they pay them. Google then tweaks their algorithm, and voila! Results of their clients get higher on to the list.

Google has been doing this for years. As others have pointed out, the more they do this (and they engage in it whenever a government doesn't want certain things showing up in search results -- think China), the more they stray away from their original mission. In this way, they cease becoming a search engine, and are just another for-profit tool.

If they intend to continue making money, they probably can't ever go back to an objective search result because they have too many customers's expectations to handle.

But it might take a while before the people of the world realize this.