Ho Hum: The Search Sky Is Falling

May 15, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

Google’s Broken Link to the Web” is interesting for two reasons: [a] The sky is falling — again and [b] search has been broken for a long time and suddenly I should worry.

The write up states:

When it comes to the company’s core search engine, however, the image of progress looks far muddier. Like its much-smaller rivals, Google’s idea for the future of search is to deliver ever more answers within its walled garden, collapsing projects that would once have required a host of visits to individual web pages into a single answer delivered within Google itself.

Nope. The walled garden has been in the game plan for a long, long time. People who lusted for Google mouse pads were not sufficiently clued in to notice. Google wants to be the digital Hotel California. Smarter software is just one more component available to the system which controls information flows globally. How many people in Denmark rely on Google search whether it is good, bad, or indifferent? The answer is, “99 percent.” What about people who let Google Gmail pass along their messages? How about 67 percent in the US. YouTube is video in many countries even with the rise of TikTok, the Google is hanging in there. Maps? Ditto. Calendars? Ditto. Each of these ubiquitous services are “search.” They have been for years. Any click can be monetized one way or another.


Who will pay attention to this message? Regulators? Users of search on an iPhone? How about commuters and Waze? Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough. Working on those security issues today?

Now the sky is falling? Give me a break. The write up adds:

where the company once limited itself to gathering low-hanging fruit along the lines of “what time is the super bowl,” on Tuesday executives showcased generative AI tools that will someday plan an entire anniversary dinner, or cross-country-move, or trip abroad. A quarter-century into its existence, a company that once proudly served as an entry point to a web that it nourished with traffic and advertising revenue has begun to abstract that all away into an input for its large language models.  This new approach is captured elegantly in a slogan that appeared several times during Tuesday’s keynote: let Google do the Googling for you.

Of course, if Google does it, those “search” abstractions can be monetized.

How about this statement?

But to everyone who depended even a little bit on web search to have their business discovered, or their blog post read, or their journalism funded, the arrival of AI search bodes ill for the future. Google will now do the Googling for you, and everyone who benefited from humans doing the Googling will very soon need to come up with a Plan B.

Okay, what’s the plan B? Kagi? Yandex? Something magical from one of the AI start ups?

People have been trying to out search Google for a quarter century. And what has been the result? Google’s technology has been baked into the findability fruit cakes.

If one wants to be found, buy Google advertising. The alternative is what exactly? Crazy SEO baloney? Hire a 15 year old and pray that person can become an influencer? Put ads on Tubi?

The sky is not falling. The clouds rolled in and obfuscated people’s ability to see how weaponized information has seized control of multiple channels of information. I don’t see a change in weather any time soon. If one wants to run around saying the sky is falling, be careful. One might run into a wall or trip over a fire plug.

Stephen E Arnold, May 15, 2024


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