One of the concepts I've tried to advocate (pretty much futilely) against the web evangelists who blather on about the buzzword "disintermediation", is that they are talking nonsense. My counter-buzzphrasing is, "There is re-intermediation". That is new centralization (new gatekeepers), new centers of power.
Nick Carr is now making this point better heard in The centripetal web
Technorati just couldn't compete with Google's resources. But it wasn't just a matter of responsiveness and reliability. As a web-services conglomerate, Google made it easy to enter one keyword and then do a series of different searches from its site. ... Google offered the path of least resistance, and I happily took it. ... I thought of this today as I read, ... a report that people seem to be abandoning Bloglines, the popular online feed reader, and that many of them are coming to use Google Reader instead. ...
By coincidence, Philipp Lenssen just posted about Google Now Allows Sites to Serve Content to Them While Showing a Registration Box to Non-Google Users, noting one implication being:
the barrier for competing search engines, existing and future ones, being raised... because Google may now be offered a key by some sites, something which the same site may not bother implementing for the new engine on the block (if that other engine would also suggest a first click policy). If this policy would ever become wide-spread, the next Larry and Sergeys of today writing a web crawler would face a lot of new dead ends: "Google exclusive" crawl territory, a place where newcomers need to ask permission first.
One the biggest examples of re-intermediation (driven by Google) has of course been Wikipedia, and Nick Carr observes in his post:
One of the untold stories of Wikipedia is the way it has siphoned traffic from small, specialist sites, even though those sites often have better information about the topics they cover
I actually argued this point in an academic discussion thread over a legal case, where I pointed out the process in action. That a link/attention to a poorly-fitting Wikipedia article supplanted attention and ranking from specialists who were experts on the topic (n.b. I didn't mean me, but real lawyers who were on top of the legal issues). The dream of blogging was that such specialists would supplant the superficial "MSM" ("Mainstream Media"), but instead we're just getting the potentially worse Wikipedia. But I just ended up getting flamed, maybe Nick Carr will do better (centralization of critics? 1/2 :-)).By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on October 20, 2008 08:09 AM (Infothought permalink)