[Foundation-l] In defence of Google

Gerard Meijssen gerard.meijssen at gmail.com
Sun Jan 21 11:37:20 UTC 2007

Anthony schreef:
> On 1/20/07, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hoi,
>> Commerce is an abstraction. Google a reality. The traffic that we have
>> and the resulting relevance that we acquired as a result is largely due
>> to Google. This is a reality. As I said earlier, it is relevant to
>> appreciate our friends. Microsoft's search engine does not do us any
>> favours. This is a reality. Our aims are in bringing information to
>> people; that is what Google helps us do. If we had twice the amount of
>> content and we did not have the traffic that comes from Google we would
>> not be half as good in achieving our goal. Our goal is to get the
>> information out, it is not sitting on it and think ourselves great for
>> having created such a large body of work.
> I don't think you're right that 50% of Wikipedia traffic comes as a
> result of Google searches ([[Wikipedia:Search_engine_statistics]] says
> it's 33%).  Nor do I believe that none of that traffic would have come
> to Wikipedia had Google not existed.  Nor do I believe that Google
> should be praised simply for giving Wikipedia a fair ranking.  Nor do
> I believe that traffic is the sole goal.
Once people become "addicted" to Wikipedia, they go directly to 
Wikipedia. This means that the statistics about what percentage actually 
comes from any source today does not make plain the effect such a source 
has had on our popularity. The aim of the WMF is to make knowledge 
available to people. We do that by making this knowledge available; the 
amount of traffic has a direct correlation to our success.

Again, I acknowledge the importance that Google played, I am thankful 
for all the help we get. All the little bits of help we got helped us to 
become what we are today. The Google factor has been substantial; just 
consider the amount of Firefox users compared to IE users and wonder why 
this happened.

There is also the fact that Wikipedia is not well known in many 
countries. When our articles are found positively in search engines, it 
will slowly but surely help us get to the tipping point where Wikipedia 
is a household name. It is not even well known in countries like Italy. 
We need good relations to get us where we will be a well established 
movement outside of the English language as well. It helps when we have 
friends like Google.
>> Google does not need to be actively creating Open Content to be
>> considered beneficial to the Open Content. As they gave us a fair
>> ranking in their search engine we thrived. With your dismissal of Google
>> Books you conveniently ignore the controversy that exists because of the
>> audacity that Google had in making this tool available. You conveniently
>> ignore that many publishers went to court in order to prevent this
>> service in the first place. If anything, Google should be applauded for
>> services like Google book search, Google scholar.
> Don't take my word for it.  Read up on what Brewster Kahle from
> Internet Archive had to say about Google Book Search, or find out more
> about the Open Content Alliance he co-founded largely to respond to
> it.  "They don't want the books to appear in anyone else's search
> engine but their own, which is a little peculiar for a company that
> says its mission is to make information universally accessible," Kahle
> said.
> "Google, for instance, is digitizing some great libraries. But their
> contracts (which were actually secret contracts with libraries – which
> is bizarre, but anyway, they were secret until they got sued out of
> them by some governments) are under such restrictions that they're
> pretty useless... the copies that go back to the libraries. Pretty
> much Google is trying to set themselves up as the only place to get to
> these materials; the only library; the only access. The idea of having
> only one company control the library of human knowledge is a
> nightmare. I mean this is 1984 – a book about how bad the world would
> be if this really came about, if a few governments' control and
> corporations' control on information goes too far."
> I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to choose sides on this one, and I'm
> going with Kahle, not with Google.
I have read enough to learn why Google is getting the opposition to its 
program. I agree with that opposition. However, you will also have read 
that Bruster Kahle acknowledges that his project is very much a reaction 
to the Google project. The opposition that exists is not unlikely to 
have Google to reconsider its position. When we consider Google a 
friend, we can as a friend discuss these issues. When we consider Google 
an enemy, we will not even try to engage in a conversation.

I object to see enemies everywhere, I prefer to see friends that have a 
different outlook, friends that may be convinced to consider an other 
approach. I think this approach is more productive.


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