Google, Microsoft, and Bias: Austrian Economics Anyone?

October 17, 2011

I read “Patent Analyst Accused of Anti-Google Stance Funded by Microsoft”. The blogger, analyst, professional documenter of intellectual property issues disclosed that a big outfit was going to pay him to write a study. On the plus side, the individual did explain what he was doing. The action is a reasonable step to take. If I were lucky enough to have people pay me to write content in Beyond  Search, I would do more than slap a plug for my publisher on my stories. On the down side, the individual disclosed what he was doing and is getting some negative vibes from poobahs, pundits, and programmers-turned-Adwords lovers.

In June I received an invitation to a black tie party in Washington, DC. The invitation made clear that heavy hitters would be in attendance and that I should bring my wife in evening attire which displayed her considerable charms to their best advantage. I don’t live in Washington any longer, but the person holding the party disclosed in that invitation that a big outfit was paying to get formerly influential people like me to show up.

I did a job with a company in which I invested. We hired a content management poobah. After the fact, we learned that the lad had a crush on a certain CMS system, did not have particularly good technical skills, and had even less robust management skills. The  cat was a smooth talker, and we were able to get the person to walk the plank without too much hassle. We learned that this “crush” on the CMS vendor was part of an elaborate “I am objective, but I love some people more than others because some people refer work to me.” I adjusted by baloney detector and have mostly avoided the “on the take”, “in the bag”, and “working for the shadowy folks” problem.

Let’s be clear. The azure chip consultants sell coverage, speaking slots, and direct mail  promotion of their clients. The “pay to play” model has trashed the programs of a number of once useful conferences. I never believe a sales presentation, a demonstration, or the hash served in webinars. Call me cautious, but in today’s business world, the reality is that money talks.

My hunch is that this “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation for the blogger is par for the course. What is objectivity? With college researchers spoofing data sets, database publishers refusing to remove bogus or sponsored articles from for fee databases, and authors making up entire books which are presented as non fiction, what is the big deal?

Disinformation of this type is easily spotted. What’s more interesting is the type of weaponized content I described in my key note at the intelligence conference in Washington, DC on October 11 and 12. Instead of chasing the obvious, maybe the satraps could think about next generation issues?

Nah, that’s too much work.

Stephen E Arnold, October 17, 2011

Sponsored by Who? My publisher, gentle reader. My publisher.


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