Google Begins the Path of Penance: A Page Is Turned

June 24, 2011

Countries can be so annoying. The purpose of 21st century American business is to generate revenue. The other ideas about what business is about are like scabby knaves. One sleeping policeman in America are elected officials, hired aides, and assorted hangers on.

I read in my hard copy of the Wall Street Journal, which actually arrived dry and early this morning, the story “FTC to Serve Google with Subpoenas in Broad Antitrust Probe.” For a short time, you may be able to read this lengthy write up online. Wait too long, and you will either have to pay to access the story or schlep to the local library to see if it has sufficient funds in the post Google world to have a subscription to Mr. Murdoch’s version of the New York Times. One interesting passage in my opinion is:

Google is quickly expanding its array of services that seek to directly answer users’ queries, departing from its original strategy of sending them quickly to the most relevant site. Since 2009, for example, Google has directed people who search for mortgages or credit cards to its own marketplace for such offers.

The key point in the write up was that some folks seem to think that Google fiddles search results intentionally or unintentionally to make its one trick pony leap through a ring of fire and walk backwards. Allegations are these. News aggregators are overflowing with comments from hither and yon. On one hand, there are other media giants to the search engine optimization crowd.

I have written three monographs about Google, posts in this blog, columns in KMWorld and Enterprise Technology Management, and referenced Google in my lectures. I declined to be interviewed by Ken Auletta, which earned me the accolade “gruff”. I played word games with the Viacom’s legal eagles until the top dog figured out I wasn’t going to talk about the GOOG.

I will stick to my policy but I can offer three observations which you are free to ignore, consider, or comment upon in the comments section of this blog.

First, other than creating a distraction from significant economic challenges in the US and global issues in more than 60 countries, will the “investigation” deliver something other than:

  • A news moment
  • A fee fest for attorneys and advisors
  • Endless explanations to our elected officials who use Google daily to find out what’s happening without understanding without understanding how Google works?

My view is, “Nope.”

Second, will those who allege Google is like one of those crooked card dealers in 1950s’ westerns get their traffic back, generate more revenue from Google Adwords, or rise shine more brightly in the SEO firmament.

My view is, “Nope.”

Third, will Google reveal its systems and methods, explain how sites that stumble through an algorithmic tripwire, or point out how a “janitor” tidies certain values in a table for a Google process?

My view is, “Nope.”

Google, like any corporate entity, has a life cycle. Google is at the rite of passage for young warrior companies. The firm and its youthful chief must endure the Months of Interrogation followed by the Path of Penance.

At the end of the journey, the youthful chief will emerge stronger and wiser. And what about the aggrieved Webmasters, SEO charlatans, and legal eagles? Pretty much the same.

Stephen E Arnold, June 24, 2011

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