Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Biting the hand that feeds you

With some degree of exaggeration, it seems that Google is fast becoming the Tiddalik the frog of the internet world, consuming all before it. Is this a good thing? This report highlights claims of a decline in the quality of Google's search results. As an information professional working in the education sector, I observe the information seeking behaviours of many of my patrons. It concerns me that some of them seem to rely too heavily on Google when doing research. They seem unaware that its search results are not ranked on relevance or quality, but on popularity.

On another level, as the first sentence in this post indirectly implies, I'm also concerned about Google's predominance in the search engine and web services market. In the old media age, some commentators opposed the concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few powerful individuals. They said that it would stifle diversity and reduce freedom of expression. The internet and digital media has changed the media landscape. Nobody has absolute control over it, and freedom of expression has flourished. Even so, I think that corporations like Google have too much control over it, and wish that people would take the time to have a look at other search engines out there. They might be pleasantly surprised at what they find.

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