Why Is The NY Times Running A Ridiculous, Conflicted Op-Ed Against Google?

from the mistakes-galore dept

Paul Kedrosky points us to an absolutely ridiculous op-ed in the NY Times from a guy who runs a price comparison search engine that offered little of value and reasonably was punished by Google for it. But the guy tries to make a federal case out of his own poor ranking, suggesting that the government needs to regulate Google because the company was so bold as to recognize that people weren't searching for his lame price-comparison site and probably would find others more appropriate. Kedrosky picks apart the piece brilliantly:
Gosh, what a shocker. Someone in search with no web traffic.... wants someone in search with a lot of web traffic, Google, to send his company buckets of visitors. Amazing.

The OpEd goes downhill from there. We get a litany of silly complaints, like the idea that Google doesn't innovate, that it just buys stuff from others, and that Google's Maps and other products have hurt other companies. Yeesh. I'll say this really slowly: Consumers want products that work together, simplify our lives, and solve problems. For this nitwit to want to throw us back to a world where we need point products -- maps here, directions there, product search there, email over there, etc. -- as some sort of full-employment act for me-too companies that can't get web traffic on their own merits is batshit nuts.
Furthermore, the guy's claim in the article that Google went out of its way to make his company "disappear" simply isn't supported by the evidence at all. Again, Kedrosky rips this argument to shreds:
Really? Google went out of its way to make a tiny product search company in the U.K. disappear? That would be a great story if true....

Trouble is, Google doesn't "disappear" other much larger product search companies, as a quick search for "canon prices" will show you. Up pops shopper.cnet.com, pricegrabber.com, and so on, as well as, of course, Google's own product search site.
If Google were really trying to "disappear" the competition, wouldn't it focus on sites that actually matter?

Kedrosky points out the other big problem with this OpEd as well. Despite this being written by someone who has a clear conflict of interest, he notes that you don't find this out until your well into the OpEd:
Of course, there is a second level of stupid to this piece, and that goes to the NYT itself. It took until the fourth paragraph of the piece until we find out that the OpEd author is, you know, conflicted in that he himself runs a search company (albeit one with negligible traffic). Not only that, he has an axe to grind, as he goes on in paragraph four to arm-wavingly allege that Google "disappeared" his site from its results.
It makes you wonder why the NY Times would allow such an OpEd to go forward. Kedrosky has his opinion: "apparently NY Times OpEds over the holidays are vetted by malnourished monkeys."

Filed Under: journalism, neutrality, oped, search engines
Companies: foundem, google, ny times

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2009 @ 9:00pm

    Re: I agree with that that guy

    "How inconvenient it is to have to visit different sites for different things. This is the kind of attitude that has ruined "Mainstreet America.""

    The only thing that ruins Mainstreet America are the big corporations that insist that the government should intervene to act in their best interest at public expense (ie: by giving monopolies to cable infrastructure and regulating search engines to act only in the best interest of rich and powerful corporations). Free markets are a good thing, it's government intervention caused by corporate lobbying that's bad. You want to make it so that we visit YOUR site first and then we have to go through additional trouble to visit different sites instead of just finding all the most relevant sites in one search engine.

    "As for this, if Google plays favorites and the smaller guys get pushed farther and farther down the list, how can they compete?"

    The fact is that you don't care about the smaller guys. Government regulation is often done under the pretext that it will somehow help the small guy but it never does. Eminent domain ends up taking from the small guy and giving to the big guy under some pretext of saving the environment (ie: taking homes from individuals under the pretext of saving some bird and then a year or so later giving the land to Wal Mart, ie: see Pen and Teller). It's under the pretext of saving the small guy (some bird) that actions are done to help the big guy. Government regulation hardly EVER helps the small guy. Just look at the laws to monopolize who can be a taxi cab driver, look at intellectual property laws that uniformly favor the RIAA and CRIA (who don't have to comply with the laws themselves) and other rich corporations (ie: Monsanto and pharmaceutical corporations), look at government granted monopolies on public airwaves and on who can use and build new cableco/telco infrastructure. It's ALL uniformly for the BIG guy. All the secretive meetings on copyright are for the BIG guy because only the BIG guy is invited, the public is left out. Government regulation is NOT for the little guy, that's just a lie to tell the people in hopes they will adopt ridiculous laws passed by big corporations.

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