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Is Google Polluting the Internet?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the hippie-talk-two-point-oh dept.

Advertising 378

Pickens writes "In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin made a promise: 'We believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.' Now, Micah White writes in the Guardian that the vast library that is the internet is flooded with so many advertisements that this commercial barrage is having a cultural impact, where users can no longer tell the difference between content and advertising, and the omnipresence of internet advertising constrains the horizon of our thought. And at the center of it all, with ad space on 85% of all internet sites, is Google. In the gleeful words of CEO Eric Schmidt, 'We are an advertising company.' The danger of allowing an advertising company to control the index of human knowledge is too obvious to ignore, writes White. 'The universal index is the shared heritage of humanity. It ought to be owned by us all. No corporation or nation has the right to privatize the index, commercialize the index, censor what they do not like or auction search ranking to the highest bidder.' Google currently makes nearly all its money from practices its founders once rightly abhorred. 'Now it is up to us to realize the dream of a non-commercial paradigm for organizing the internet. ... We have public libraries. We need a public search engine.'"

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No we don't. (5, Insightful)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074334)

Please. Not another sink hole.

Re:No we don't. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074480)

Exactly. There are 2 motivators for people :

a. money
b. power

If a search engine isn't motivated by money, there's only one thing that will motivate it. Just look at wikipedia, whose pages on any political theory read like they were written by a 15-year old obsessed party member that's about to get thrown out of the party for very good reasons. This is, unfortunately true for most, if not all political ideologies, from marxism (no mention of the billion dead by marxist governments), to nazism (mentions of the holocaust are on page 7 in my "print preview", you can literally read 15 minutes about party theory before you realize that they killed people), to islam (no mention of the thousands of genocides in islamic history, accounting to also about a billion dead at least).

Do we really want a search engine where criticism and free thinking is banned out (except for the -current- enemies of government of course) ? Because that's exactly what a "public" search engine will be.

Re:No we don't. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074600)

I think the reason the atrocities performed by regimes that fall under the various ideologies aren't mentioned at the very top of every Wiki page on any particular ideology is that you're reading pages on IDEOLOGY, not practice. For historical information you should probably look at a historic overview (the page on the Nazi Party mentions the Holocaust in the second introductory paragraph). I find this (sensible, imo) separation quite useful and, well, sensible.

Re:No we don't. (4, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074650)

Exactly. There are 2 motivators for people :

a. money
b. power

Gosh, don't let the psychologists hear this, they'll all be out of jobs!

Oh, wait, maybe human behavior is more complex than that... That would explain why anyone would be interested in investing time in a search engine/web browser/OS not corrupted by a. money and b. power.

Re:No we don't. (2, Informative)

canadian_right (410687) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074786)

Money and power are just two parts of the many levels of human motivation.

  • Physiology (hunger, thirst, sleep, etc.)
  • Safety/Security/Shelter/Health
  • Belongingness/Love/Friendship
  • Self-esteem/Recognition/Achievement
  • Self actualization/li

Re:No we don't. (2, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074802)

So sayeth Maslow [wikipedia.org] .

Re:No we don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074704)

Exactly. There are 2 motivators for people :

a. money
b. power

Wow. You've really made it easy to rationalize your own shitty behaviour, huh? In my experience, people are considerably more complex than this...maybe not *you*, but, y'know, real human beings. Most of us don't have to simplify the world to two choices, to live in it.

Re:No we don't. (0, Troll)

dieth (951868) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074790)

Most of us don't have to simplify the world to two choices, to live in it.

Most American's can only rely on their two choices, anymore and they plug there ears and go "lalalalalala", for fear that there brains may explode if they try to understand anything complex.

Re:No we don't. (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074730)

That explains organizations like the Red Cross perfectly. Why, right this minute they're planning world domination.

Re:No we don't. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074512)

I had to address this:

In the gleeful words of CEO Eric Schmidt, 'We are an advertising company.'

Check out the video starting at 5:15. While he says this with a smile after revealing that ads are 98% of Google's revenue, I wouldn't go so far as to call it gleeful. Seems the submitter threw that in as an attempt to bolster their argument.

Re:No we don't. (1)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074738)

That will be a monopoly governed by people who's main goal is to get reelected and do it by giving favors out to people who donate money.

Neither capitalists nor government have your personal best interests at heart. At your interests and theirs are complimentary for a while and you can glean some mutual benefit from working together. It is foolish to believe that either organization exists to help you because both are governed by people who have no interest in doing anything of the sort.

First piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074338)

on you

Re:First piss (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074534)

Now that's what I call polluting the internet!

Re:First piss (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074604)

LOL, I guess that that's why they call this board random xD!!!

True but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074354)

It's true but at the same time the only organization capable of pulling off a search engine with the power, scope, and ease of use of Google would be a government. Now how do you feel about the government controlling, censoring or whatever the wealth of human knowledge?

Re:True but... (4, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074406)

Why do you say that? Google did it, and when they started it was little more than a couple of college students.

Re:True but... (3, Insightful)

ranton (36917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074502)

Why do you say that? Google did it, and when they started it was little more than a couple of college students.

Yes, but it was corporate money that allowed it to be a great success. It was a combination of their great ideas and serious capital. $25 million in 1999 got them started, and $1.67 billion in 2004 got them where they are today.

I am sorry, you are not going to get a billion dollars to build a non-profit search engine. The OP was correct that you would need a governmental body to accomplish this without corporate money.

Re:True but... (3, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074804)

There's already Bing which is just as capable as Google (bit nicer on Image searches, much worse on Usenet group searches). But even if there were a dozen such rival search engines, the addition of a free, public one, wouldn't solve Internet pollution caused by the mere existence of the commercial search engines. For example, try searching for any remotely obscure technical information and you find the same question and answers popping up again and again because some fucking screen scrapers have ripped off the original thread where it occured and put it on their own site. Not only does that make it harder to find varied answers, but it means that it's hard to find the original site and post followup questions or see if anybody else has. There mere existence of big advertising money distorts the Internet. Only if public search engines replaced commercial ones would Internet pollution be reduced.

Re:True but... (4, Insightful)

binary paladin (684759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074828)

Is there anything governmental bodies accomplish in this day and age without corporate money?

Sure (4, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074356)

You pay for the servers, the bandwidth, and the developers, not to mention the managerial and legal overhead, and make it public without making a profit, and nobody will complain.

For those of us living in the real world, Google's a pretty decent option.

Re:Sure (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074402)

Amen to that!

Also, no tax money should support it. If tax money supports it then the political system will abuse the hell out of it way worse than Google ever could.

Re:Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074576)

Yes. The government would in no way censor it would they?.

Re:Sure (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074578)

...where users can no longer tell the difference between content and advertising...

People need to take some responsibility for their lives and understand that there is a difference between being a sentient being and a consumer.

Re:Sure (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074656)

You pay for the servers, the bandwidth, and the developers, not to mention the managerial and legal overhead, and make it public without making a profit, and nobody will complain.

For those of us living in the real world, Google's a pretty decent option.

I am one of the people who think the future is in peer-to-peer distributed search. If the search engine exists in pieces on everybody's computer, then by buying the computer you are paying for the server. Open sourcers will donate the development time. And we're all paying our ISP for bandwidth anyway.

Re:Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074866)

It's got electrolytes.

Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (3, Insightful)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074358)

I am amazed that people think google is (a) a good search engine, rather then soemthing to generate profit for google, and (b) that as alarge corporation, google can be trusted to do anything other then max profits.
The idea that a large public company like google will do anything other then maximize profits is silly beyond belief;
There is one small exception: if a company is a quasi monopoly, as google is, then it can indulge in some luxuries, like sponsering summer of code; the epitome of this was the old Bell Labs research center in Murray HIll NJ (at least one Nobel Prize for fundamental science, microwave background).

PS google is willing to invade my privacy and yours with street view; can you do streetview for the personal residences of Page and Brin and the directors and senior executives of Google ? why doesn't someone start a site, www.seehowitfeels.net, that is just devoted to giving Page and Brin the same privacy that ordinary people have. Bet the lawsuits come soon and often

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (4, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074400)

I'd say the real thing I'm amazed at is just how long google has remained the go-to search engine. Results have been juuust passable for about five or six years now, when once they were very good.

Google proved that every so often, you need to refresh search not by "tweaking the algorithm" but by moving to a whole new algorithm, to defeat SEO spam. So why hasn't anyone dethroned them yet, it's long overdue. Is it just that the the expense of initially building the database at google's start was a much lower barrier to entry for newcomers than it is now?

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074660)

I think it's because most people don't have a billion dollars to spend on something that probably won't work.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (3, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074456)

There have been search engines before Google, there will be search engines after Google.

Google's success is a fragile one at best, and Google knows it, which is probably why they're still mostly on the "do no evil" side.

By the way; "being a good search engine" and "something to generate profit for google" are not mutually exclusive.

Maximizing profit is a good thing as long as they're planning to do it long term; that would require keeping everybody happy.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (4, Interesting)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074470)

he idea that a large public company like google will do anything other then maximize profits is silly beyond belief;

That is like saying that it is inconceivable that a person, being a product of Darwin, would do anything other than what is necessary to survive and reproduce, that is, behave 100% selfishly.

Fact is, being selfish turns out, in many cases, to decrease chances of said reproduction. It may be indirect (i.e. people figure out they can't trust you, you lose friends, you don't find a spouse, you don't have anyone to help you out when bad things happen to you, etc)

Same thing happens with corporations. Behaving purely "selfishly" (i.e. do everything to maximize profits) can have the opposite effect. (i.e. you have to pay a lot higher saleries if you want to hire the best and brightest, you lose customers because they think you are evil, etc)

I'm not saying anything one way or the other about Google, I'm just saying I disagree with the simplistic notion that all corporations, large or small, will only act in ways to maximize profits....or your implication that "being a good citizen" can't be a viable strategy toward maximizing profits.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (2, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074610)

Fact is, being selfish turns out, in many cases, to decrease chances of said reproduction. It may be indirect (i.e. people figure out they can't trust you, you lose friends, you don't find a spouse, you don't have anyone to help you out when bad things happen to you, etc)

I agree with you completely. So many people completely misunderstand this. I blame it on the idea that our moral sense is given to us from a deity or creator rather than being a product of evolution. There is a survival reason that we behave in a moral fashion.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074774)

IMO, there's nothing wrong with selfishness when things are thought out long term. Being known as a jerk who can't be trusted isn't in most people's interest.

A sucessful selfish person would be somebody like Slughorn from Harry Potter.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (5, Informative)

Asdanf (1281936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074488)

PS google is willing to invade my privacy and yours with street view; can you do streetview for the personal residences of Page and Brin and the directors and senior executives of Google ?

Yes, you can. I did a quick Google search for [larry page's home address], the first result listed his address, and then Google Maps was happy to provide me with both aerial photos and street view.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074836)

When you are a multi-millionaire, you can protect your privacy whether people know your address or not. It's not like you'd be able to sneak into Larry Page's house at night or loiter outside his house till he has to go out. But most other people? They're more vulnerable.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074510)

good search engine, rather then soemthing to generate profit for google

Stupid argument. It generates profits for Google because it's a good search engine. If it wasn't, people wouldn't have changed from Yahoo/Altavista/wtv.

PS google is willing to invade my privacy and yours with street view; can you do streetview for the personal residences of Page and Brin and the directors and senior executives of Google ? why doesn't someone start a site, www.seehowitfeels.net, that is just devoted to giving Page and Brin the same privacy that ordinary people have. Bet the lawsuits come soon and often

My name doesn't appear on Street View. To check your house, you need to know my address. The same is valid for their houses.
You can't see their houses because you don't know their address, just like you don't know mine.
I you put your address on your webpage or other public websites, the fault is yours.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074528)

*To check my house

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074834)

Thank god that was a typo! I was afraid you were living in my attic!

I'm curious (1)

melted (227442) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074530)

What "privacy" do you think you have while you're out on the street?

Re:I'm curious (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074752)

Private, public, performance. There is no privacy on the street but you have a natural expectation that the people out of your line of sight are not waiting around the corner for you.

Did you play the video game Paperboy [google.com] ? (Google!)

As you were riding this bicycle down the street, the first time you played the game, this dog would come running out to get in the way. If you hit the dog you wrecked and lost a "life" (3 lives==end of game). Then you got to know where the dog was in the game and, if you were watching ahead, you would know that the dog was, indeed, waiting just behind that house until you made it far enough along the sidewalk and _then_ the dog would deliberately run out at you. The dog was not coincidental. If you knew the dog was there you could watch the screen scroll and the dog was deliberately timing you and waiting for you to hit just the right spot on the sidewalk.

If you are making a performance (performance level privacy rating) then, yes, people are probably waiting around just to see your performance. Public is not private but neither is it performance.

Re:I'm curious (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074798)

Pretty much the same difference as walking out your front door to pick up a newspaper while nude and being featured on the E! Channel nude. Or MTV. Or Fox News.

The first situation is one where if a very few neighbors aren't looking nobody sees anything, the second potentially everyone on the planet is watching. What Google has done with Street View is put everything in everyone's face all the time.

Do a search on YouTube for "street view". A lot of the early hits are Google-created but there are millions of matches. Mostly people with something to point out that they found on Street View for their 2.5 seconds of fame. So anything that is picked up by Google's cameras is likely to be immortalized forever. Check out what you get from "street view naked" and it might be clearer to you.

So whatever is caught is going to be seen by people with nothing better to do that search for the titilating. They are going to find it and preserve it. So that means if a kid is observed peeing in the bushes at 6 years of age his children are going to have it presented to them 20-30 years later.

Sure, someone might have taken such a picture before but it is extremely unlikely they would have shared it very widely. Now it is shared with the planet. And it is forever. So imagine coming in to work and finding everyone in the office snickering over some picture which turns out to be a very embarrassing picture from your childhood. With Street View this idea just got about 1,000 times more likely.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074544)

Err., you do realize that they've publicly stated several times that if you simply ask to have your house censored, they will? They're also implementing face-recognition (obviously no perfect).

While I agree that Google's here to get profits, their actions have been balanced (IMHO). Take, for example, the Android Market. The app purchase price goes to Developers + Cell companies (0% to Google, they get a $15 one time developer license), and the advertising in said apps is open to any company (not just Admob). They get their "cut" from the behaviour analysis. Sure, one could say it's the only way to achieve marketshare, but the net result is that they don't make as much money as some other companies do by being insanely greedy.

P.S. Google is a) a search engine *AND* a way to generate profits for them. Just because one is true doesn't mean the other isn't. I find most of what I'm looking for on the first page or two.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (1)

phantomflanflinger (832614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074546)

People think Google is a good search engine because when they type their query it finds what they want. I am amazed so many nerds can't grasp this and think people want something else from a search engine - and attempt to code it.

As for Google being a corporation and making money, they are guilty of that.

As for Streetview, you can get higher res pictures of streets by walking down them. Molecules are smaller than pixels. Thus far.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (3, Insightful)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074552)

The capitalist restaurant is run for the benefit of its owner.

The communist restaurant is run for the benefit of the customer.

Now.. which one has better food?

Google exists to generate profit for Google, yes, but that doesn't mean it doesn't provide a good service for the rest of us. Its goal (profit) and our goal (searching, blogging on Blogger, whatever) are perfectly aligned. Ladies and gentlemen, it's the magic of capitalism, where selfish motives are harnessed to serve the common good.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (1)

thethibs (882667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074558)

The proof that Google is a good search engine is the traffic they generate.

The way Google maximizes profit is by providing a service many people use, which in turn generates advertising revenue. Got a problem with that? --Don't use it.

I hate to burst your bubble, but that's what free enterprise is about. If you'd rather recreate Soviet Russia or some other failed socialist state, you're in the wrong place.

What makes you think that Street View misses Page and Brin? Even if you're too lazy to start your own "ethical" search service, the least you can do is give us the coordinates so we can see for ourselves the black holes where Page and Brin live .

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (1)

hittman007 (206669) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074580)

I agree, the google search engine exists to make money for the company that owns it. Being as this is a great source of revenue the company, they continue to put money into it. It takes money to do what they have done, and no one has done it as well. While I have some issues with some other things they have done, their search engine is still the best out there. Others have tried to compete... IMHO no one has made as good of a search engine as google yet, and I have looked around.

Google simply gets me the best and most accurate results, period. It is also free for me to use. I know the difference between advertised results and actual results, and I think most people figure out the difference very quickly... I would venture a guess that much of the time the advertised result is what the person doing the search was looking for anyway.

Just because something is owned by a corporation and makes them money does not make it a bad thing.

Also just because a corporation exists does not make it evil, at least with a corporation we know its end goals, to make money, which makes them somewhat predictable. I wish many other organizations out there were so easy to predict...

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074584)

You must be young or new to the net. The reason google took over the search engine market from nothing was because they returned relevant results instantly. The other players at the time were awful and sluggish. Considering the massive advantage Microsoft have with defaulting 90+% of the market's machines to their own crud, that has to tell you something. Google are dominant now mainly due to inertia and nothing significantly, if at all, better being available. Which is pretty sad considering just how poor google search results are these days, with utterly polluted with placeholder pages with no content, fake news/reviews site, ghastly blogs, and plain ol' ads.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074590)

I am amazed that people think google is (a) a good search engine, rather then soemthing to generate profit for google, and (b) that as alarge corporation, google can be trusted to do anything other then max profits.

It is a good search engine. Try switching to another (say, bing or something) for a week and you'll see what I mean. I'm not saying google is the ideal engine, but it's good enough. Until a better competitor arrives, I guess.

The idea that a large public company like google will do anything other then maximize profits is silly beyond belief;

true. Being a crappy engine will cost them customers and thus advertising money, though.

PS google is willing to invade my privacy and yours with street view; can you do streetview for the personal residences of Page and Brin and the directors and senior executives of Google ?
why doesn't someone start a site, www.seehowitfeels.net, that is just devoted to giving Page and Brin the same privacy that ordinary people have.

Bet the lawsuits come soon and often

How is street view a privacy violation? All faces are blurred out. The street is public and street view only takes a single snapshot (perhaps three or four if you're lucky) of a person.

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074596)

I am amazed that you apparently believe that doing things to maximize profits must automatically mean that it has no value to anyone else (positive externalities). Do you also believe that the grocer, whose goal is to make money, provides no benefit to customers? Or that attempting to maximize profits, by for example using more efficient shipping or better environment control, isn't also benefitting his customers?

Re:Does the Bear poop in the woods ? (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074744)

I would appreciate a link to their addresses, and another link to the Google Street View outside their residences where their houses are grayed out, or where all the streets in the area are in Street View but theirs is not.

But I think if you drove past their house with a car and took a few pictures of their house, not only would you not be breaking any laws, but they wouldn't care one little bit. If you stood outside their house for hours with high-def cameras, then maybe they'd have a problem.

So go and make your own index (3, Insightful)

Mabbo (1337229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074368)

Google didn't make their index of human knowledge for free you know. If you don't like it, make your own. It will cost you billions of dollars, not just to create, but to keep up to date, up to the second.

Re:So go and make your own index (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074394)

Duh. Most of the way there already. Everything starts with an article on Slashdot. Then the dreams materialize. The article on Slashdot just happened, so the miracle search engine should soon follow.

Re:So go and make your own index (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074694)

But Wikipedia did, and they have done an excellent job

Distributed search engines failed (2, Interesting)

cpghost (719344) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074370)

We've tried this before with GRUB [grub.org] , but it didn't really take off for a multitude of reasons.

Re:Distributed search engines failed (1)

CyberDragon777 (1573387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074832)

A search engine that crawls disk partitions?

Sounds interesting.

Libraries (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074374)

We're more likely to lose public libraries than gain a public search engine.

Sad that YaCy is a major fail (2, Interesting)

xiando (770382) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074380)

I agree that we need a public people-controlled search-engine, and http://yacy.de/ [yacy.de] is sadly the best P2P search engine there is right now. It is, sadly, a major fail as it is written in Java and brings the average desktop computer to it's knees just by doing whatever in the background. A good P2P engine would make a good alternative to the commercial search-engines. There really is no alternative to Google as of now, I've tried the alternatives and they are all epic failz & pure jokes.

Re:Sad that YaCy is a major fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074460)

YaCy failed due to the lack of good documentation as a prerequisite for building a community and acquiring new ideas.
Or can anyone here explain the database structure (with performance numbers), retrieval and ranking algorithm (and variants) etc.?

Re:Sad that YaCy is a major fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074722)

You seem to be hip to this.
Which one comes the closest that is in the best code ?

Public Search Engine (2, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074388)

... controlled by the US government (who else would have the means and would volunteer?), the same which will soon have an Internet kill switch and is almost completely submerged by lobbyists? Is it really that much better?

Re:Public Search Engine (3, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074526)

... controlled by the US government (who else would have the means and would volunteer?), the same which will soon have an Internet kill switch and is almost completely submerged by lobbyists? Is it really that much better?

Sounds like something that's right up the EU's alley: creating a public alternative to a foreign-owned monopoly in a critical growth sector.

Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074390)

Now it is up to us to realize the dream of a non-commercial paradigm for organizing the internet. ... We have public libraries. We need a public search engine.

I agree. I've often wondered why it is simply not categorized in the way of the Dewey Decimal system.

If the Library of Congress can be catalogued, then surely the internet can be as well. With the majority of it falling into the 'pop trash' category, of course.

Re:Agreed (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074440)

If the Library of Congress can be catalogued, then surely the internet can be as well. With the majority of it falling into the 'pop trash' category, of course.

That would defeat the purpose of cataloging the internet. It also ignores that cataloging the internet isn't a useful (or low effort) activity. Google has a far better system.

Re:Agreed (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074570)

The Library of Congress doesn't use the Dewey Decimal System. They use (surprise) the Library of Congress Classification system.

But on topic, they did the categorical classification thing back in the 90s. Yahoo, Dmoz, etc. They still exist, but search engines are more efficient. Entering a single query is easier than clicking through a hierarchy that may be half a dozen levels each. And they'd be even bigger if they tried to categorize any significant portion of the internet.

Directories are still useful if you want to see the most important sites for a subject, but when you want that specific piece of information you can't beat a search engine.

If we could build such a thing, it would be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074396)

The problem is that the public is very bad at getting things of that scale right. The most you can expect for billions of taxpayer money is a censored, slow, outdated, incomplete and biased search engine. The obvious alternative is driven by ambition and greed, but that means it needs to pay for itself (and some more), so that approach is not going to be free. There is a third way, which is to break the problem up in a way that allows people to contribute small fragments of the solution. Then convince people to actually participate. Unfortunately nobody has come up with a workable partitioning of the problem yet, so we're stuck with corporate greed or governmental incompetence and squandering.

So what? (1)

contra_mundi (1362297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074422)

You want a public search engine? Just make one and stop whining.

Also he complains about cencorship?
Let's see how bad cencorship gets on a nationally owned search engine. I bet all kinds of unfavorable facts begin to disappear rather quickly.

Economic/Other incentives to do this... (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074424)

The danger of allowing an advertising company to control the index of human knowledge is too obvious to ignore, writes White. 'The universal index is the shared heritage of humanity.

Just how are we to create incentives for an organization to do this? Commercial companies will want to make money off of it, advertising is one way to monetize this service, charging an access fee would be another. I wouldn't really trust a government to do this, not because they have agendas/etc. but because they simply are not technically competent enough to do this. Any non-profit/etc. organization would have to be insanely well funded to accomplish this task, so that's unlikely.

For better or worse it looks like we are stuck with Google. We could definitely do worse, but we could also do better I suspect (I just have no idea how it would be paid for).

Re:Economic/Other incentives to do this... (1)

andrewm_za (766955) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074516)

I suspect some people (myself included) would happily pay a monthly $5 or $10 to access a search engine that was completely free of adverts or bias. If the market were big enough ...

Re:Economic/Other incentives to do this... (2, Insightful)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074592)

$5 to $10 monthly?? I'll stick with the adverts thank you very much. Even $0.01 a month would be too much because that means I have to pay $1 every nine years. And since the ads on Google don't bother me at all (and very occasionally even help me), I get no benefit from paying that money.

Re:Economic/Other incentives to do this... (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074702)

Any non-profit/etc. organization would have to be insanely well funded to accomplish this task, so that's unlikely.
Wikipedia does it. I think a good non-profit search can raise some serious funds.

Re:Economic/Other incentives to do this... (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074742)

Wikipedia does it because the main thing of value they offer is the content itself, which can be crowdsourced (admittedly, they have to pay for bandwidth and servers as well). Most of Google's money is spent on writing the code, and providing the infrastructure to do fast searches. That's going to be a whole lot more expensive than what Wikipedia offers (beyond the content itself).

Nothing new or internet-y about gullibility (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074426)

...where users can no longer tell the difference between content and advertising..

But those are the same people who never could tell the difference.

Although admittedly there is a problem with search results being full of pages that, once you get there, turn out to be advertising with phrases added to get themselves into the search results, it's prefectly obvious to me when I actually load the page that it's advertising, almost always for something in which I have no interest, but I'm certainly not going to rewarded them by going to them even if it's something I do want.

Public Search Engine vs. Competition (2)

randall_burns (108052) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074436)

In the beginning, we had a variety of search engines out there. It wasn't necessarily obvious at the time that a company like google would get a near monopoly.

I think the meta question here:
what are the range of services that really ought to be public vs. private/corporate?

The net simply would not exist if it hadn't been for DoD participation. I think we are still missing basic pieces of infrastructure. Some of these simply will not exist without public input.

My sense is that 99% of the time, google works fine-but that 1% of the time it doesn't work is critical.I think clearly identifying that 1% is a good idea and a site that could do that well might be important in its own right.

Re:Public Search Engine vs. Competition (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074500)

what are the range of services that really ought to be public vs. private/corporate?

I think there's a simple question here. Is it a service that can only be provided by government? If the answer is "yes", then go public, else go private/corporate. Here, we have a clear demonstration that a private service can provide search results. Hence, no need for a public option.

The net simply would not exist if it hadn't been for DoD participation. I think we are still missing basic pieces of infrastructure. Some of these simply will not exist without public input.

Wholly irrelevant unless you can mention a service or piece of infrastructure that requires government.

My sense is that 99% of the time, google works fine-but that 1% of the time it doesn't work is critical.I think clearly identifying that 1% is a good idea and a site that could do that well might be important in its own right.

But not a site that is government run.

Re:Public Search Engine vs. Competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074686)

Well, after living in three different countries with different levels of government involvement in the provision of services and infrastructure, my personal opinion is that *most* services would be greatly benefited, if they don't require, government. My health care has always been better when run by government (better as in cheaper, more readily available, and with quality of service on par or higher), so have been my telephony services (until privatisation that in every case completely destroyed a perfectly good service and created an unsustainable monopoly), and I've definitely felt more secure with government run emergency, police and military services, etc, etc.

But, I like getting things from the community, as I work *for* the community (instead of for personal profit maximization)...and that's just me.

Re:Public Search Engine vs. Competition (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074760)

Well, after living in three different countries with different levels of government involvement in the provision of services and infrastructure, my personal opinion is that *most* services would be greatly benefited, if they don't require, government. My health care has always been better when run by government (better as in cheaper, more readily available, and with quality of service on par or higher), so have been my telephony services (until privatisation that in every case completely destroyed a perfectly good service and created an unsustainable monopoly), and I've definitely felt more secure with government run emergency, police and military services, etc, etc.

But, I like getting things from the community, as I work *for* the community (instead of for personal profit maximization)...and that's just me.

So are these countries just as anonymous as you are? Or do they have names? In comparison, my telephony services are much better than they were under the US government-granted monopoly (long live Ma Bell) and government run emergency, policy, and military services are precisely the sort of service that I think is the near exclusive domain of government. Health care is a shambles, but that's due to the efforts of the US government (which has eagerly encouraged excess consumption of health care for decades).

Google less useful by the day (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074438)

I've found for service based searches Google is virtually worthless. The first few pages are always the sleaziest of the companies and after that the results are scrambled so it's impossible to find legitimate service providers. It's still useful for information searches but most everything else it's been largely bricked already.

We're the Government--we're here to help. (2, Insightful)

thethibs (882667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074444)

Just what we need--a public search engine, paid for by taxpayers and managed by "public servants" who get to choose what's indexed and to censor whatever's not politically correct.

Welcome to the Disney Internet.

Of course it is (2, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074446)

In connection with spam marketers and clients, it is.

Here is an observation. I have a bunch of news filters for my sites and client site. 5 years ago, these would mostly return real hits (mentions in blogs, or the press, or a link, whatever). Today, they mostly return spam sites (sites that have a bunch of links to real businesses, but no real information and, of course, a bunch of ads). I presume that these sites are mostly put up to get hits from Google searches, and that it must be working (as there are so many of them).

If that's not pollution, I don't know what is.

my internet has no advertising! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074452)

what advertising are they talking about?
i do not see any ads. (apart from intermittent slashvertisement)
maybe my internet is broken...

Re:my internet has no advertising! (1, Flamebait)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074482)

No, you're just a leech.

Re:my internet has no advertising! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074538)

idiot

Re:my internet has no advertising! (4, Insightful)

Dr.Syshalt (702491) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074542)

No, you're just a leech.

If I ever dare disabling AdBlock+ in my browser, I'll have problems with page load times (=my time) + it will be much harder to concentrate on the content in a presence of distracting animations and other crap (=my productivity). On the road it will also lead to increased bandwidth bill (=my money) and shorter battery life (=productivity)

Who is the leech now?

Re:my internet has no advertising! (0, Troll)

el3mentary (1349033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074768)

You're still the leech, when it comes down to it, the advertisers are still paying for the server costs in the majority of cases.

What we need... (2, Interesting)

miltonw (892065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074472)

What we need is "researchers" who are a bit more intelligent. This person claims users "can no longer tell the difference between content and advertising". Based on what? HIs own experience?

Personally, I don't know anyone who has any difficulty in telling the difference.

Re:What we need... (3, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074492)

Traditional ads, no. Astroturfing, I'm sure I've been fooled at some point. But it's hardly fair to blame search engines for that.

Re:What we need... (5, Insightful)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074668)

The article says:

"Google was originally conceived to be a commercial-free search engine. Twelve years ago, in the first public documentation of their technology, the inventors of Google warned that advertising corrupts search engines... And they condemned as particularly "insidious" the sale of the top spot on search results; a practice Google now champions."

The misunderstanding is obvious. Google's ads are clearly separated from the search result - different style, different background colour. And yet the writer seems to think they are one and the same. It seems he has based an entire article on his own inability to distinguish between ads and search results.

More Navel-gazing. (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074504)

'The universal index is the shared heritage of humanity. It ought to be owned by us all. No corporation or nation has the right to privatize the index, commercialize the index, censor what they do not like or auction search ranking to the highest bidder.'

Google is a business and they're doing all the indexing work, so *no* their index ought *not* be owned by us all. Further, they can advertise on their own system all they like, since it's their own product and the result of their own work. If some group of people wants to produce a wikipedia-esque version of the same thing, they're more than welcome to do so. Of course, they won't have the resources of a Google, so . . . good luck with that.

Of course, isn't that what the Mozilla Open Directory was?

Also, the entire internet is spammed with endless fucking advertising, right down to every jackhole and his blog read only by himself. What is more representative of humanity and the internet than a search index that is also filled with advertising on every square inch? Not to mention, the ads are being served in real time. They're not part of some "archive" somewhere. And even if they were, stripping them out would be very simple (hell, I can do it in real time with Adblock Plus . . . which everyone should be using so they won't have to deal with these ads to begin with).

Google should have strong competition, true, but they shouldn't be forced to open everything to the world out of some sort of altruistic goal. I also shouldn't be forced to foot the bill, as a tax payer, for your little pet project to "reproduce google, but without ads". Again, you can already get google without ads. It's called an adblocker.

is he serious (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074518)

"where users can no longer tell the difference between content and advertising, and the omnipresence of internet advertising constrains the horizon of our thought" who cannot tell tell the difference between content and advertising?? its pretty obvious most of the time. and how exactly does "the omnipresence of internet advertising constrain the horizon of our thought"

Re:is he serious (1)

miltonw (892065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074636)

Especially since Google actually labels their ads as ads -- for those who have this perceptual difficulty.

Quite a hodgepodge of thought... (2, Insightful)

flabbergast (620919) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074522)

This opinion piece is quite the hodgepodge of thoughts. The author brings in Sir Francis Bacon (division of knowledge), then spins off into Jonathan Swift's criticism of indexing knowledge. Apparently, indexes make us "lazy as thinkers." Running through the same discourse is the idea that Google provides an easy way to include advertising which pollutes the internet. And since Google is so omnipresent, it poses a danger. Then, he brings up the idea that since Google is an "advertising company" it cannot be trusted with the knowledge of humanity.
Finally, we come to the (logical?) conclusion that we need an index that is akin to the "public library" so humanity can control "the shared heritage of humanity."

Lazy thinking indeed.

If this is TL;DR, here's the slashdot version:
1. Quote prominent philosophers loosely related to subject matter
2. Make bold claims about high profile company/person
3. Make even bolder claim about "shared heritage of humanity"
...
Profit! from page views.

Google is a single point of failure (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074540)

Well, not completely. But there is absolutely no other agency I trust the way I trust Google. I trust that the only bias Google intentionally applies to their results has the best interests of everybody at heart. I most certainly do NOT trust Bing to do this. They would in a heartbeat and tell me they were completely justified in doing so, and most of you here would agree with them and tell me that corporations aren't even supposed to have a moral compass.

I would like some diversity here. I would like a distributed solution to this problem. Unfortunately one doesn't exist, I can't think of a good way to make one right now. But Google's centralized nature and the amount of trust I'm required to have for them is very worrisome to me.

Re:Google is a single point of failure (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074602)

I trust that the only bias Google intentionally applies to their results has the best interests of everybody at heart.
tell that to the chinese.

Re:Google is a single point of failure (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074630)

Well, it depends on which Chinese people you ask. :-) But yes, I get your point, and you're right. I once thought Google mistakenly felt they were making a decision that was in everybody's best interests, and I no longer do in that case.

The medium is the message (3, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074566)

...and unfortunately the vast majority of the 'internet' is a cesspool not unlike the back alleys of a medieval city of yore. Google is a gateway, a path to a destination, a route to traverse the maze of everything... but what is gained? The internet is still about the destination, the site, the content. Do we care about those little blinking ads tailored to our whims that entice us, distract us, while we attempt to get to the 'content' we are searching for?

Ah.... but what if the path is merely a maze going nowhere? A ship in a bottle floating in an endless sea of replicating bots who tirelessly analyze our essence and present false choices in an endless stream of nothingness only with the intent to gain our credit card number...

Suppose for a moment, that we are not just entertaining ourselves to death, but are still empowered by our desires to know the truth, to synthesize information in a free society and hold our ideas as our own, and are not just a copy-write infringed info byte of a subsidiary of a monolithic corporation.

The lesson perhaps? Nothing is free. Everything has a price. Search is free, but the road has a toll...for our soul, our individuality.

This is the 21st century, we gotta get with the program. Block the ads. Pay for your hosting, own your domain... pay your dues. Own your identity. Don't sell yourself for nothing. And remember, always make a backup.

Google is polluting the Internet by (5, Informative)

Dishwasha (125561) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074614)

causing every website that uses Google Analytics and YouTube to take a horrendous time to load. It didn't used to be this way, but within the past year Google's non-search infrastructure has really not scaled very well.

Public Search (1)

Jah Shaka (562375) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074620)

Based on the amount of Cash Google makes, and the fact that their entire systm is automated (adsense and adwords) on would think that a public search engine would be able to fund itself, pay for its own servers, and pay for a management team to run it? I would have thought that if the guys behind Cuil.com were to have taken this direction they would have been massively sucessful.... what ever happened to them?

Mixing a couple of things (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074646)

Don't mix Google the search engine (probably the biggest one in internet, that have their own small ads in the results), with Google the ad network with a lot of big and small competitors, where webmasters decide to put their ads, and how. If you complain about internet pollution because a site is having too much ads, is probably webmaster/designer fault, not Google.

Empirical Evidence Reigns Supreme (0)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074666)

I have used Google an a regular basis for years. I always find exactly what I am looking for, and I actually forgot that they advertise since I mentally tune that section out. The idea that Google doesn't serve up exactly what you search for is ludicrous. I have never once searched for a solution to a software problem or anything else without finding what I was looking for in a very short time span with minimal effort. Ironically, the Guardian article has ads on it. Does that mean The Guardian is stifling and we need a free public news outlet? If I don't like it, or myself, then I can always use Bing. This article is about the most absurd compilation of hogwash I have seen in quite some time,and I read Slashdot.

Not fixable by search engines (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074696)

where users can no longer tell the difference between content and advertising

These are the same people who need warning labels to tell them to put the jelly on their toast after it comes out of the toaster. While I'm definitely sympathetic to the arguments in TFA, there's a limit to how much a search engine can compensate for the cognitive deficits of its users.

In any case, honesty in advertising is not a technological issue, it's a question of legislation and law enforcement. And if we lack the will to rein in abuses in a single country, good luck with the internet.

Filters, Routers - BLOCK EM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34074864)

At the router level you can block websites like doubleclick, etc - in an ever increasing black list - blocking the bandwidth wasting banner ads and (ugh) full Flash video ads that pump more kilobytes at the user than the original page they want to look at! Most annoying are talking ads that just begin talking audio at you offering home loans or car repairs while you are trying to read the text of the site your visiting!

Block those ads from coming into your organization and get an instant jump in bandwidth and faster internet speed for your users.

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