Google and the Perils of Posting

October 21, 2011

I don’t want to make a big deal out of an simple human mistake from a button click. I just had eye surgery, and it is a miracle that I can [a] find my keyboard and [b] make any function on my computers work.

However, I did notice this item this morning and wanted to snag it before it magically disappeared due to mysterious computer gremlins. The item in question is “Last Week I Accidentally Posted”, via Google Plus at this url. I apologize for the notation style, but Google Plus posts come with the weird use of the “+” sign which is a killer when running queries on some search systems. Also, there is no title, which means this is more of a James Joyce type of writing than a standard news article or even a blog post from the addled goose in Harrod’s Creek.

To get some context you can read my original commentary in “Google Amazon Dust Bunnies.” My focus in that write up is squarely on the battle between Google and Amazon, which I think is more serious confrontation that the unemployed English teachers, aging hippies turned consultant, and the failed yet smarmy Web masters who have reinvented themselves as “search experts” think.

Believe me, Google versus Amazon is going to be interesting. If my research is on the money, the problems between Google and Amazon will escalate to and may surpass the tension that exists between Google and Oracle, Google and Apple, and Google and Viacom. (Well, Viacom may be different because that is a personal and business spat, not just big companies trying to grab the entire supply of apple pies in the cafeteria.)

In the Dust Bunnies write up, I focused on the management context of the information in the original post and the subsequent news stories. In this write up, I want to comment on four aspects of this second post about why Google and Amazon are both so good, so important, and so often misunderstood. If you want me to talk about the writer of these Google Plus essays, stop reading. The individual’s name which appears on the source documents is irrelevant.

1. Altering or Idealizing What Really Happened

I had a college professor, Dr. Philip Crane who told us in history class in 1963, “When Stalin wanted to change history, he ordered history textbooks to be rewritten.” I don’t know if the anecdote is true or not. Dr. Crane went on to become a US congressman, and you know how reliable those folks’ public statements are. What we have in the original document and this apologia is a rewriting of history. I find this interesting because the author could use other methods to make the content disappear. My question, “Why not?” And, “Why revisit what was a pretty sophomoric tirade involving a couple of big companies?”

2, Suppressing Content with New Content

One of the quirks of modern indexing systems such as Baidu, Jike, and Yandex is that once content is in the index, it can persist. As more content on a particular topic accretes “around” an anchor document, the document becomes more findable. What I find interesting is that despite the removal of the original post the secondary post continues to “hook” to discussions of that original post. In fact, the snippet I quoted in “Dust Bunnies” comes from a secondary source. I have noted and adapted to “good stuff” disappearing as a primary document. The only evidence of a document’s existence are secondary references. As these expand, then the original item becomes more visible and more difficult to suppress. In short, the author of the apologia is ensuring the findability of the gaffe. Fascinating to me.

3. Amazon: A Problem for Google

The fact that a Googler (the alleged author of the original post which was critical of Google Plus) invoked Amazon as the touchstone of the argument in the original post tells me that a tooth has an ache. Nothing reveals more about senior management anxieties than the companies referenced in controversial emails. In my work over the last 40 years, when an entity surfaces in a document intended for an internal audience, that entity is significant. The fact that Amazon and not Apple, Oracle, or Viacom as invoked lights up my radar. No coincidences in corporate gaffes I surmise.

4. What’s Next?

The fact that my original Dust Bunnies ran as a follow up to “Google Amazon Dust Up. Search and More” on October 12, 2011, leaves me asking, “What will be the next ejection of information about Google’s Amazon Anxiety Complex?

To sum up: Darned interesting situation unfolding. We will monitor this and run queries to see how the indexes handle this “anchored” document. (Yes, I know I am not mentioning the name of the entity alleged to have written both Google Plus items. This is intentional. Do not call, email, or post a comment stating, “You are superficial.” We don’t do news and we do some things with intent. This is one of those situations, entity lovers.)

Stephen E Arnold, October 21, 2011

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