Monday, December 28

NY Times hits new low: Gives voice to quack on "Search Neutrality"

The NY Times ran a op-ed article, Search, but you may not find. I can't believe they ran such rubbish. I'm not going to bother to debunk it, Paul Kedrosky did a better job than I could.

The problem is that commercial search engines are inherently conflicted: they have products to sell and advertisers to please. The question is: Should search be a public service, like a library?

The French are taking on Google books with Polinum, the "Operating Platform for Digital Books." Jimmy Wales's efforts with Wikia Search failed because they didn't execute and weren't profitable. Daniel, a long advocate of transparency in search now works for Google.

There will always be disgruntled quacks, but in the long-run, is a company or even a small group of companies with such a large share of search healthy?


  1. I also know quite a few unsuccessful attempts to create telecom startups that failed. If you subscribe to the market mentality, I cannot see how you can support net neutrality rules for telecom providers.

    If you support net neutrality, you essentially require telecoms to be "dumb pipes" transferring content, without the ability to differentiate services, e.g., promoting their own VoIP service and throttling Vonage.

    The idea behind search neutrality (which is actually not new) is that Google should not be able to differentiate across services or provide prominent placement for its own services.

    It is ironic how everyone attacked Microsoft for bundling IE with Windows, but very few complain about the "bundling" of Google services with their own search interface.

  2. 20 years ago starting a commodity/common business like plumbing repairs involved paying the phone company to list your business in the Yellow pages.. or you could run your own marketing campaign and burn lots of money.

    What has changed? If you want to market your service to consumers you better either play by Google's rules or burn money on a marketing campaign.

    Maybe the lesson is not to start a business that looks like N others already operating, then whine about your impending failure to thrive.

  3. I see the argument for pluggable services: maps, product search, etc... However, I think it already exists in the form of browser plugins. If you have a plugin you could modify Google's results and add your own. For mobile markets, Android is an open platform.

    That said, I think offering webmasters more control of their results, like Y! SearchMonkey could have great value for users.

    In short, I think the analogy falls short. After all, users are only a click-away from the service they want to use. That's why I focused more on the conflict with ranking/inclusion and a need for an open/public option.

  4. Jeff, the users were a click away from downloading and installing their own browser or their own media player. The users are also a phone call away for switching their ISP.

    What is the guiding principle for deciding which companies should be regulated?