April 30, 2012

Google Power - from "Penguin" update to CISPA security bill

Another Google search algorithm update, another set of implications:

Petition: Google: Please kill your Penguin update

With the recent Google Penguin update, it has become nearly impossible for small content based websites to stay competitive with large publishers like eHow, WikiHow, Yahoo Answers and Amazon.

Countless webmasters have seen their livelihoods vanish overnight. ...

Have you noticed any great outcry in law/policy circles at this re-intermediation, as a potential threat to innovation? Any worry over the immense power vested in the whims of a single company, about what it might all mean for Freedom And The Internet? There's not much to be heard over the sounds of backscratching.

While it's definitely possible to go too far into seeing Google everywhere, one also shouldn't go too far in the other direction either, and pretend there's no economy of influence. Though I've basically given up on writing about the search algorithm implications myself. The SEO world knows all about it, they live it, they don't need to have it rehashed. The "connected" law/policy quasi-lobbyists don't want to know about it, ranging from unconcerned to actively hostile. For the remaining groups, well, we see how much notice is garnered by petitions like the above.

And the attention-driving aspect is further shown by articles over the battle about a "cyber-security" bill called CISPA: Why is Silicon Valley silent on CISPA?

In January, America's major tech companies joined everyday internet users to break the back of a reviled law called SOPA. Months later, Washington is brewing a new law that alarms many SOPA opponents but this time the same companies have been quiet as church mice.

We put in calls about the vote to some of our Silicon Valley sources and the response has been nothing but crickets. Silence from Google. Ditto from Facebook. ....

Just a few months ago, the net was marinated in tales of how the evil SOPA-ians quaked before The Power Of Google, *cough*, I mean, The People. About how laws which threaten The Business Model Of Google, *cough*, I mean Civil Liberties, could no longer stand in the New Era. Fate gives us these little parallels to show how much that was all manipulation and feeding the masses delusions of significance. I have to grant that the end result of the SOPA battle did pass my test of being a positive outcome on civil-liberties (end-vs-means wouldn't be a difficult question if the "ends" view had nothing on its side). But it seems that's almost more accident than design.

Unfortunately, the only powerful faction making any of these points is the big media companies, who are Google's opponents, but not my friends or, perhaps more relevantly, patrons. While I don't want to be an unpaid Google lobbyist, it's even less appealing to be an unpaid media company flack.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on April 30, 2012 11:58 PM | (Infothought permalink)