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Why Google Must Die

Interesting point of view . . .
Why Google Must Die by John Dvorak, PC Magazine (Nov 17)
I’ve been talking about this for years. Too many library folks say they they want all of our OPACs, federated search, and web site search engines to work “just like Google”. Indeed some of the more shallow ones actually implement the Google yellow or blue boxes in their institutions or communities! I have heard that at least four U.S. states have served up their state portals to Google alone.
Should we give up, raise the white flag and just go Google? To that I respond:
OK, which should I implement first:
1. Should I start manipulating the search results of library users based on the needs of advertisers who pay for position?
2. Should I track your users’ searches and offer different search results or ads based on their private searches?
3. Should I open library OPACs and searches to ‘search engine optimization’ (SEO) techniques that allow special interest groups, commercial interests, politicians (as we’ve certainly seen with the geotagged searches in the US election this year), racist organizations (as in the classsic MLK example), or whatever to change results?
4. Should I geotag all searches, using Google Maps, coming from colleges, universities or high schools because I can ultimately charge more for clicks coming from younger searchers? Should I build services like Google Scholar to attract young ad viewers and train or accredit librarians and educators in the use of same?
5. Should I allow the algorithm to override the end-user’s Boolean search if it meets an advertiser’s goal?
6. “Evil,” says Google CEO Eric Schmidt, “is what Sergey says is evil.” (Wired). Is that who you want making your personal and institutional values decisions?
I still remain amazed at how many library folks are unaware of (or choose to ignore) exactly how Google makes billions of dollars in profit alone every year. You serve your primary customer and Google’s primary customer is not library end users (or searchers at all). Meeting the ends of advertisers and growing your revenue to meet the demands of the NYSE vortex.
Now libraries should be asking what creates a good saerch result that meets th end users needs – the big question research where the questions begin with ‘why’ and ‘how’ – not the simple who, what where, when Google searches. .Can they be as simple as Google? Should they be as simple as Google? Might thought, talent and learning be involved versus simple information transactions?
Libraries should be creating the third way – the one that doesn’t serve the needs of advertisers, politicians, special interest groups, etc. – the one that lifts people up in learning environments and communities.
And they should be training users to be aware of the algorithms behind Google and all the search engines.
And they should find their voice to talk to their host institutions and communities about their role.
If we don’t, . . .

Posted on: November 24, 2008, 9:38 am Category: Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Erik Sandall said

    Mr. Dvorak is right: Most library users are unaware of how Google works. So, when people request that OPACs work like Google, what do they mean? They are probably talking about the clean, minimal presentation of search results. They are probably talking about the instant access to information with just a click of the mouse. Many library OPACs could certainly benefit from a redesign, but no library can simply digitize its entire collection for access via the OPAC. I think many library users are just as confused about how libraries work as they are about how Google works.
    I think #2 has potential, actually. Why shouldn’t a searcher have the option of saving their searches for future reference, or for improving future search results?

  2. Wolf Flywheel said

    Ah yes, that’ll be the same Google that gives me a nicely-formatted entry for “Sirsi” – first entry in the results – including the ironic heading “Why Google must die”. Whereas the presumably non-evil Yahoo lists “Sirsi” as “Sirsi, Karnataka – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”.. Hmmm…
    Good thing Sirsi changed its name to SirsiDynix over two years ago eh? Wouldn’t want people going to India by mistake! I wonder how many years it will take for folks to get the name correct?