Quality Search Results: From Pink Slime To Correctly Diagnosing Appendicitis
from the it's-not-all-pink-slime dept
Yes, rather than promoting "the muck," Google properly returned the valued sites. And, of course, that's exactly what Google wants to do. So I started thinking -- why is it that the folks at the Copyright Alliance are so confused about Google (other than the obvious answer that they've never used a search engine)? And I think I know what the problem is. They think that Google is supposed to serve up the links that are most valuable to the Copyright Alliance, not the links that are most valuable to the actual users of the service. That's a very different thing.
I woke up with a new pain on my right side about an inch down and three inches over from the navel. Given who I am — chronic hypochondriac and a certified Google fan boy — I searched Google for appendicitis.
By reputation, Google — and the internet — should have returned bogus, dangerous, uninformed, unauthoritative advice from cults, and witch doctors, and Demand Media. But it didn’t. It gave me the NIH, WedMD, the Mayo Clinic, (yes) Wikipedia, and other good and trustworthy sources. It gave me more than enough good information to check and cross-check and then diagnose my new pain correctly.
More specifically, when people using Google search for "free movies" or "free music," the folks at the Copyright Alliance get upset that Google actually sends them to what they want, believing that, instead, Google should send them not to free movies or free music -- but rather to a site to pay for those things. Of course, if the users were looking to pay for those things, then I'm sure Google would accommodate. But to assume that someone looking for free stuff is magically going to buy because Google doesn't send them to what they want sure sounds like wishful thinking.
The issue is not about "pink slime" or Google's inability to distinguish value from the muck. It's very much about actually responding to what users want. The problem is that the folks who generously fund the Copyright Alliance don't like giving users what they want. They prefer the old way that things were done, when they could control and limit the release of content and they could focus on being gatekeepers and artificially jacking up the price on things -- leading them to inflate (in their own minds) the true value of something, as well as the corresponding price (not the same thing, of course).
However, if they were to adapt, and recognize the opportunities the internet provides, they could embrace it by providing what consumers want. At that point, it seems clear that Google would also point many people in their direction... if only they served the users' best interests too.