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In my latest Guardian column, “Search is too important to leave to one company – even Google,” I make the case that Google’s algorithms are editorial decisions, and that so much editorial power is better vested in big, transparent, public entities than a few giant private concerns:

It’s a terrible idea to vest this much power with one company, even one as fun, user-centered and technologically excellent as Google. It’s too much power for a handful of companies to wield.

The question of what we can and can’t see when we go hunting for answers demands a transparent, participatory solution. There’s no dictator benevolent enough to entrust with the power to determine our political, commercial, social and ideological agenda. This is one for The People.

Put that way, it’s obvious: if search engines set the public agenda, they should be public. What’s not obvious is how to make such a thing.

Search is too important to leave to one company – even Google

4 Responses to “Guardian column on search as an open project”

  1. Crosbie Fitch

    You need distributed search, i.e. where each PC connected to the Internet participates in the process of scanning and indexing websites, and responding to queries.

    Such technology is currently quasi-illegal as it would facilitate large scale copyright infringement. Not directly, but in the sense of the technology to produce nuclear power also providing a large amount of infrastructure necessary for nuclear weapons development.

    That’s why I’m a copyright abolitionist. I want to get on with the job of building cyberspace, but there’s an 18th century privilege that’s in the way.

    You might have already noticed the stigma attached to ‘p2p’ technology…

  2. Beth

    On a related topic, I’m starting to think that here in Australia we need a non-profit internet connection provider company. Like a credit union, but for internet.

  3. Mirek Sopek aka 1K-1

    Well, seems there is a chance to realize the dream of publicly goverened search engine – for the incoming Web 3.0 era – or if we do not like webX’s jargon – for Semantic Web.
    Because SW is still in infancy, it is still time for public sector to emerge with an idea of open, transparent semantic search.
    However this infant grows fast, if nothing happens, in 2 years it will be too late. The tide is slowly risinng…
    Not long ago Google announced it will respect Microformats and RDFa – on a small scale, but, what is a small scale for Google ????

    BTW, Cory – on recent Semantic Web confenerence on Crete (ESWC 2009) I took your “metacrap” manifest and challenged some established academic professor of SW with it. Result quite disappointing. Seems these guys still believe in aristotelian science and still have faith in meta-something… (BTW, SW is larger than meta-someting …)

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