Sunday, December 14, 2008

Google cranks up the Consensus Engine

As I blog on my Google-based, ultimate tracking device, I certainly see the irony in posting anything that shines a negative light on the search monster. After all, I can always find a map or information about neighbors. What could be better than that.

Andrew Orlowski of The Register writes:

Google this week admitted that its staff will pick and choose what appears in its search results. It's a historic statement - and nobody has yet grasped its significance.

Not so very long ago, Google disclaimed responsibility for its search results by explaining that these were chosen by a computer algorithm. The disclaimer lives on at Google News, where we are assured that:

The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.
That Google was impartial was one of the articles of faith. For if Google was ever to be found to be applying subjective human judgment directly on the process, it would be akin to the voting machines being rigged.
It wasn't surprising, then, that when five years ago I described how a small, self-selected number of people could rig Google's search results, the reaction from the people doing the rigging was violently antagonistic. Who lifted that rock? they cried.

But what was once Googlewashing by a select few now has Google's active participation.

A while back, I found -- a site that scrapes Google searches for you anonymously. If you're ever feeling a little violated by the barrage of eyeballs on your life, head to Scroogle, where you can run around naked with the lights on -- and search in privacy, too.


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