Google and newspapers
I'm quoted in an article on Forbes.com regarding Rupert Murdoch's musings at a cable industry confab. Murdoch asked "Should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyrights?"
I was brought in at the end as something of an ally of Rupert:
...newspapers' attempts at gaming Google remain "rogue efforts," says Anthony Moor, deputy managing editor of the Dallas Morning News Online and a director of the Online News Association. "I wish newspapers could act together to negotiate better terms with companies like Google. Better yet, what would happen if we all turned our sites off to search engines for a week? By creating scarcity, we might finally get fair value for the work we do." Sounds like an idea Murdoch would endorse.
Just to clarify, I'm not one of those who think Google is the death of newspapers. Quite the contrary, I emphasized to reporter Dirk Smillie that search engines are the default home page for people using the Internet, and as such, direct a lot of traffic to us. That traffic is important. I don't believe Google is "stealing" our content. And I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek about "turning off" to Google. We don't matter much to Google. I was musing about what might happen if all news sites turned off for a week. What would people think? Would they survive? (Maybe.)
Google organizes the Web. Something needs to do that. My concern is that they're effectively a monopoly player in that space. Oh sure, there's Yahoo, but who "Yahoos" information on the Web?
So I'm much more concerned about the unequal relationship between Google and the rest of the Internet. They are so big and so important to the ecosystem that there is little we can do to affect that relationship except game Google (getting our search results higher via SEO etc.) In a sense, their technology dictates the audience and business terms of the Web.
What I wish could really happen is an organization and search schema that is open standards based that resides outside one company's secret algorithms. I think the Semantic Web holds that promise -- a peer-to-peer infrastructure where information "talks" to other information in a common meta-language. Done right, you might not need Google.
Google uses links to organize the Web. The Semantic Web uses information about information to organize the Web. Arguably it's more powerful. And if it weren't "owned" by anyone, then we all might benefit in proportion to our information's relevance and not watch most of the money flowing to Google.