Google and 1plusV: When Algorithms and Egos Collide

June 29, 2011

I am not taking sides. I want to point out that there are big issues and big egos involved in this spat. Well, “spat” may be to soft and fuzzy for the dispute between the GOOG and 1plusV. For the norte americanos who don’t pay attention to doings in Costa Rica, the hassle with far off France may mean nothing. But from my goose pond, this particular legal matter is more like a tactical weapon deployed at a legal meet up in the Sorbonne. “Google Faces Damage Claim from French Rival 1plusV” reported a suit with claims for alleged Google actions of about US$400 million. The key point in the write up for me was:

“We always try to do what’s best for our users,” spokesman Al Verney said. “It’s the key principle that drives our company, and we look forward to explaining this.”

By golly, lemons from lemonade. Google had the world by the tail. Then the relevance thing seemed to bump into the 1plusV view of objectivity. The problem is that other Web site owners may find that Google’s ability to convert a victory into yet another legal fight is as remarkable as the company’s controlled chaos approach to management.

As I said, I am neutral on this type of allegation about algorithms and humans. My hunch is that algorithms can make decisiono amased on threaholds. That is fine with me. Avoid the tripwires. However, if the algorithms bump into human decisions, that may require an explanaiton of an editorial policy. I am worn out from discussions about Web traffic, SEO, and inexplicable traffic peaks and valleys.

I look forward to Google’s explanation of what is best for its users. Yep, looking forward, never back. Never complain, never explain. The only problem is that legal eagles do look back, do explain, and do work for humans allegedly abused by an algorithm.

I have some modest experience working in France with French rocket scientists. I am aware of the intellectual capabilities of some folks who relax in August. Underestimating the French. Not for me.

Stephen E Arnold, June 29, 2011


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