domingo, 21 de octubre de 2018

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Vínculo original en theregister (software)
Andrew Orlowski

Fecha de publicación:

miércoles, 9 de diciembre de 2009

Última actualización:

jueves, 10 de diciembre de 2009

Entrada en el observatorio:

jueves, 10 de diciembre de 2009



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Google abandons Search

Swaps Hive Mind for nevermind

It's hard to explain to people new to the web since 2004 - the Digg kids - the effect that Google had on the internet at the turn of the decade. They can't conceive the Before and the After. Google was miraculous, and so much better than the competition that they effectively gave up trying. But Google's PageRank also unleashed social and political fads which reverberate right through to this day.

Much of the junk science of the web comes from Googlemania of this period. New institutes and venerable academic departments today all drink from the seemingly bottomless well. It permeates into Birtspeak 2.0, and you can see this in the Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down you see in Comments, for example. "Social media marketing" wouldn't really exist without it, either.

Google kindled the idea that the Web was a democracy, a great big voting machine. But only Google was uniquely qualified to divine these intentions - only Google had the capability and knowhow to discern the 'Hive Mind'. It said so. Its PR blurb explicitly made the connection between a New Form of Democracy and its own innovation, the "uniquely democratic nature of the web".

For a couple of years, PageRank„¢ worked its wonders. Then reality began to mess things up. What worked well for conferring authority to peer-reviewed academic papers didn't work quite so well in the wild. As Google grew, the importance of appearing in its rankings grew - SEO and dirty tricks became big business. (See Meet the Jefferson of Web 2.0.)

This was first pointed out by your reporter in 2003, occurring in two ways. Firstly, via the ease with which a small group could hijack search terms, thanks to the dense interlinking nature of blogs (a more perfect machine for rigging PageRank has yet to be invented). This was Googlewashing. And secondly, the ease with which spammers could clog the system with noise. The period also saw the migration of real-time chatter from protocols beyond the reach of Google's bots - such as AOL chatrooms - and into its search index. The result, by mid-2003, was a system that was broken.

You may recall that it was heresy at the time to doubt the magical technical ability of Google to get it right. The bandwagon of Web 2.0 had barely started to roll - it wasn't christened until the following year - but there was already money on riding on it. But it was an even greater heresy to question the moral authority that the technology utopians had by then conferred on Google.

For Google wasn't just ranking web pages, but adding to the human epistemological cannon - it was telling us what was wrong and right - filtered and legitimised through the people-powered Hive Mind. Thanks to the now-burdensome "Don't Be Evil" , it reminded us of its impeccable moral credentials.

Well, as you may have seen, PageRank„¢ is now dead. Google has given up on the job of ranking pages - it can't cope any more - and outsourced the task of evaluating the job to the user. It will also make a virtue of the feature destroying the index - real-time noise. As Danny Sullivan points out, this is very big news indeed. I think it's even bigger than Danny thinks it is - with an extra penthouse layer of bigness on top. All for the social and political reverberations mentioned above.

By outsourcing valuation pages to the hoi polloi, it emphatically means Google isn't in the business of arbitrating democracy. Value creation is now the job of hordes of roaming single issue fanatics, voting up and down. You could say the internet has returned to its primordial soup.

Next page: How noise defeated the cleverest engineers on Earth