NYT article: The Dirty Little Secrets of Search

It’s not like search engine optimization uses and abuses haven’t been in the news before, but this is a good reminder that our World Net View comes filtered, not at the least by anything we ourselves do, but by the whims of one company. Don’t get me wrong; I like Google and really do believe their shtick about doing no evil (unlike Apple). However, they are a business. And a business’s continued existence relies on earning money.

That kind of control makes me nervous.

However, what this article did was to highlight a secret even dirtier than the “Black Hat” tactics: search engines require secrets. Right after my initial response to the article (thumping my desk, saying this is a problem in need of an open source solution!), I realized that an open-sourced search engine, whose search and ranking algorithms were publicly known, would not only be open to abuse out of the gate, but would encourage it. And so the searches would fail.

And so must we live with One Engine to seek them all and in the darkness find them, trusting that market competition will keep it from doing evil? Or should this become a government operated function–like a utility or even more so, like the Mint? After all, part of that function is to prevent counterfeiting. But do we really want the”success” and “efficiency” of government control involved? It seems that there would be as much temptation for abuse as there is in the private world.

What then? Does anyone know of an open source plan that could prevent search algorithm abuse?

The article can be found here (and speaking of  link manipulation, note that this link includes a variable being passed to the NYT that gives credit to the site from which I discovered the article. This is a legitimate way to give credit to the people who find and share this information (after all, I didn’t originally go to NYT’s site); but just in case it bothers you, here is the direct link)

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