[Foundation-l] In defence of Google

Anthony wikilegal at inbox.org
Fri Jan 19 11:13:18 UTC 2007

On 1/18/07, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hoi,
> Recently there has been a lot of traffic about search engines. The tone
> of these discussions have been hostile towards Google. I want to remind
> you all that it is because of the value Google attaches to our content
> that we became the number 10 or whatever in the Alexa rankings.

So Google is to blame for that?  You say it as though it is
necessarily a good thing.

> When
> Google were to drop the value it attaches to Wikipedia in favour of for
> instance Citizendium, it will become clear how important Google is for
> the dissemination of our Free content.

When STDs and pregnancy can be prevented by an inexpensive, safe and
effective once a day pill, those people distributing free condoms will
be out of business.

If Citizendium becomes the next great thing as a fork, then
Citizendium will be disseminating "your" Free content.  If not, then
there's little reason to believe Google would drop Wikipedia, just
move it down to number two.

> When Citizendium finally gets its
> act together, and does a better job that we do, it will make sense to
> Google to change its preference. We should not sit on our laurels but
> innovate. Frankly we can use some competition.
> The point that I am making is NOT that we might not consider dabbling in
> search technology. When we are to do this, we will find a well written
> proposal in Meta to consider. My point is that Google did a world of
> good to the Open Content movement. It is relevant that we acknowledge
> this. They are not like Microsoft who gives us a low ratings because of
> us competing with their product. Google did good, Google does good.
A large portion of Wikipedia contributors found the site through
Google.  Of course, a large portion of them also use the Windows
operating system.  I have as hard of a time imagining a Wikipedia
without Microsoft as I do one without Google.  In either case some
other company would have to take up the slack.

Google and Microsoft are for-profit corporations.  Their purpose for
existence is to make a profit.  The wonderful thing about capitalism
is that a corporation can do a lot of good for the world while
pursuing the goal of making money.  But there's really no reason to
acknowledge this.

I'd love to see Google torn down and replaced with an open source
collaborative search engine run democratically by the world.  I'd love
to have access to a search engine as good as Google, with a truly open
API (i.e. sans http://code.google.com/apis/soapsearch/api_terms.html),
and with all the results being released under an open content license.
 Is Wikimedia the one to do that?  It's arguable whether it'd be
within the scope of the Foundation's mission.  And in any case, I
haven't seen a reasonable proposal of how to do it.  So I guess when
it comes to that point, we're both in agreement.  And yeah.  Google
did good.  Google does good.  But Google did bad, too.  Google does
bad, too.  And Microsoft also did/does good/bad.


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