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[- blogs and google, tails wag dogs?
By amy, Section question corner
Posted on Sun Jul 6th, 2003 at 10:29:11 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
Soon, it'll be easier than ever to post to discordia! ;-)

The new version of Google Toolbar is going to have a feature that lets you automatically post to your blog about a website you are visiting. But does that mean the giant Google tail wags the web dog again?

[Editors note: One of the nice things about blogs is that tangents can develop that are more interesting than the original story. This is one of those cases, so please check out the comments for a discussion of cross-cultural political disputes inadvertently spawned by Google. -amy ]


[ --------------------------------------------- ]

I and others have raised some public concerns in the past about the incestuous nature of Google's PageRank Technology. Sometimes it's been manipulated intentionally. Other times, it just creates a clique of "important" websites (read, big sites whose owners also own lots of other domains, and/or have important friends.) So those kinds tend to get higher Google ratings than independent sites, dissenters' sites, etc. Which isn't surprising, except it gets kind of annoying when Google starts bragging about "the uniquely democratic nature of the web."

Why does this matter? Because Google has become the ultimate mega-medium and propaganda tool, the replacement in many ways for mass-media, often becoming more important as a meta-medium than the content it links to. Otherwise, why would even governments be interested in censoring information in Google?

So, what does this have to do with blog posting? Well, lately, blogs have been subverting Google's "old boys network" pagerank system, sometimes bringing independent content to the top of the rankings. It so happens that blogs like to link to one another's stories, and so often blogs form a de facto network of "importance" to Google's rankings on a topic... (so one or more blogs rise to the top of the rankings on that topic.) Now, if Google itself becomes part of the process, I immediately start to get suspicious... the majority of sites in Google are still corporate... are Google thinking that people will start blogging more high-google-ranked sites, and thus reinforce Google's "relevant" search results instead of bucking them? Or is it possible for this to really be a "neutral" software tool? (I don't believe in those of course :-) ) ... But then, why such a generous and selfless gift from Google? There must be more I haven't thought of...

PS.. the preceding story has 3 links from major corporate sites and 1 link from an indy site. :-)(

[ --------------------------------------------- ]

blogs and google, tails wag dogs? | 7 comments
[new] UPDATE: blogs != blogger ; blogger = google = ??? (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#7)
by amy on Fri Aug 22nd, 2003 at 11:06:31 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

In a comment located in fairly close proximity to this one, which I'm a little sleepy right now to link to, Aileen questions whether the entire internet is now equal to google. On a somewhat related note, I have an update to this story which is: The new toolbar is out, but its blogging capability is limited to blogger sites. And guess who owns blogger? Google, of course!

So now we can also question whether all of blogging is presumed to be blogger, which is really Google, which is presumed to be the internet, which is...

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[new] when is new new? (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#6)
by Anonymous Stranger on Mon Jul 28th, 2003 at 03:42:53 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME

Many bloggers have had this sort of ability to easily blog what they're surfing for a long time. I can't remember which programs have one click blogging features, but I know that MT's had it for as long as I can remember, and I'm pretty sure that Blogger had it as well, though I've not been using it much since I stopped forcing my students to use it last fall.

What is neat is how everyone and everything is legitmized by google, not only by google itself but the broadcast media-esque hype that everyone attributes to it. Beyond code, it is even more powerful as socially constructed hype.

No account Jason

[new] google = internet = google? (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#5)
by Aileen on Wed Jul 9th, 2003 at 07:07:02 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

To return to the original topic: when I looked at a website mentioned on a mailing list earlier today, I found a set of 11 platitudes basically complaining about "people's" enthusiasm about the internet. Aside from the interesting definition in the first statement, "People (eg Bloggers) go on and on about how wonderful it is", what I found striking was the way the internet is largely equated with google in four of the eleven statements.
How has the whole internet become reduced to google?

[new] What is freedom? (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#2)
by Aileen on Mon Jul 7th, 2003 at 01:17:26 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

When I followed the link referring to governments interested in censoring information in Google, I was expecting to read something about China, maybe even the US, but I was quite startled by the references to the French and German governments "censoring" websites promoting nazi propaganda and mostly infuriated by the breathtakingly arrogant criticisms of these laws (we have the same in Austria) apparently by Americans all voicing concern about "freedom of speech" and the slippery slope of censorship.
Since the word "freedom" seems to be used so frequently in such contradictory situations as a justification for surveillance, corporate monopolies, hate speech, and as a buzz word in advertising, I more and more frequently wonder what people think they are talking about.
Discussing google or other mass media in terms of transparency, vested interests, biases, etc. makes sense to me, but "freedom of speech" hardly seems to be a useful category.
Amy, I realize that I am not really reacting to your post as much as to the zdnet article, but the issue of government censorship is such a sensitive one, that I think it might blur the question of google's accountability and interests - it obviously did for me, in any case.

[new] Tangentially related... (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#1)
by amy on Sun Jul 6th, 2003 at 03:31:36 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

AOL is starting to offer their own blogging setup.

The above-linked story addresses some interesting issues of "will AOL bloggers ruing blogging?" in terms of the relevance of the opinions of related blogging networks...

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blogs and google, tails wag dogs? | 7 comments

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