From The New York Times, via Reason magazine's Hit & Run blog:
Google says it only tweaks its algorithm to improve its searches. Some Web sites that have accused Google of unfair placing are merely collections of links with next to no original content of their own, precisely the kind of sites that Google’s search algorithm screens out to better answer queries....Still, the potential impact of Google’s algorithm on the Internet economy is such that it is worth exploring ways to ensure that the editorial policy guiding Google’s tweaks is solely intended to improve the quality of the results and not to help Google’s other businesses....
Full disclosure, before I go any further into this rant. Google owns Blogger/Blogspot. It doesn't cost me a dime to use Blogger/Blogspot. And when I put Google ads on my site, my traffic from Google searches increased by about 50%.
In my arrogant opinion, that's nobody's business but mine and Google's.
For reasons that I don't understand, this site is now one of the top search results for pictures of Macaulay Culkin. Do I have the best pictures of Macaulay Culkin? I don't know or care. But people are using Google to find them here. If they don't like what Google and I provide, they can use Yahoo. Or Bing. Or Dogpile. I don't think anyone has ever put a gun to anyone's head and forced them to use Google.
Now, let's continue....
Some early suggestions for how to accomplish this include having Google explain with some specified level of detail the editorial policy that guides its tweaks. Another would be to give some government commission the power to look at those tweaks.
Oh God. Some idiot wants a government commission to look into the problem.
....if Google is to continue to be the main map to the information highway, it concerns us all that it leads us fairly to where we want to go.
Reason magazine's Peter Suderman, of course, politely suggests that The New York Times and The United States government butt the hell out of Google's succesful business model.
Mr. Suderman doesn't take it far enough.
Let's re-write that last sentence from the NYT:
....if The New York times is to continue to be the biggest newspaper in the Dead Tree Media, it concerns us all that they give us balanced information, or at least an admission of Statist bias, in everything they publish.
We need a government commission to look at the statist, lefty bias of the New York Times. We need to be sitting in on their editorial board meetings. We need the power to preview every article they publish, with an eye toward detecting favoritism toward their preferred politicians, causes, and advertisers.
Granted, nobody forces anyone to purchase The New York Times.
But that's not the point. They're successful. If they're successful, they're powerful. If they're powerful, we need to be able to control them.
Dammit, somebody, somewhere is reading things that somebody else doesn't like.
Government must intervene.