May 20, 2003

Googlewash, Nunberg, Orlowski

[Semi-name-dropping disclaimer - I like Andrew Orlowski's articles, and think they're asking good questions even if not immediately having the best answer to the question. I've even been quoted, willingly, in one Register Google piece. I've never talked to Nunberg, but I believe he's used some of my censorware investigations research in his CIPA expert testimony, so I also have incentive to favor him.]

I was puzzled recently when Edward W. Felten wrote:

Sunday's New York Times ran a piece by Geoffrey Nunberg complaining about (among other things) the relative absence of major-press articles from the top ranks of Google search results. ...

The real explanation is simpler : The Times forbids Google to index its site.

Huh? This took me aback. I couldn't even find that "complaining" in the piece at first. Some digging, via John Palfrey to Doc Searls finally let me figure it out. I believe what's fueling a certain reaction is this:

People think that the Nunberg/New York Times article is in part complaining about their Google PageRank - because that is what concerns net-writers!

No, folks. New York Times writers don't care about their PageRank. They don't need it!. They're heard already. By people who read short briefing papers prepared by staff. The New York Times is at the top, and it's a very diferent world up there, from down here.

If anything, I read Nunberg as being ever so slightly critical of Orlowski, and quite accepting of the Google results. I think he was saying very roughly that Google returns what people were talking about, and more people were talking about a "blog" topic than a "major-press" topic here, so that's what you get. Then people viewed this as somehow being a "complaint". But I didn't see Nunberg as complaining, so much as stating that chatter may be popular, but it isn't authoritative, and shouldn't be expected to be so. The same sentiment I express as "Google is good, but not God."

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google , infothought | on May 20, 2003 03:45 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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