Posted by: lunacouture | March 10, 2008

Search, Search, Search – Week 7 Response

The second part of John Battelle’s book, The Search, touches on several topics that give a glimpse of what consumers can expect from Google.  Google represents an ingenious innovation, which is bound to cause problems.   

According to the book, many companies lost business when Google changed their search engine algorithms, consequently modifying search results.  Battelle suggests that Google has a hard time monitoring websites and insuring the more legitimate ones transpire.  The order and listing of search results also depends on how much advertisers are willing to pay for advertising services via Google AdWords.  Strategic placement of advertising has permitted Google to make money, while allowing advertisers to promote their product to a greater audience outreach.  This week’s Search engine watch blog writes that Google announced it will start taking into consideration the amount of time it takes users to visualize web pages when clicking on advertisements.  This in turn will have an impact on pricing options.         

The book also delves into the privacy issues associated to Google.  Google can track people’s addresses and seek out information, simply by placing a person’s phone number into the search engine.  The book also explains how the Patriot Act has a lot of grey area subject to interpretation, when justifying government involvement in personal communication.  Under the Act, Google may get away with tracking more personal information about individuals.  China has also proven to be a controversial because its government exercises control over internet content.  According to the book, this has made it difficult for markets like Google to emerge in China.   

Brin and Page run Google in a tough manner, in order to keep their company productive and running.  Their aim is to create a fusion between our lifestyle and search engines, by incorporating digital technology to our daily lives.  Google faces plenty of competition while working to achieve its mission, but manages to stay ahead of the game.  Usually the average time span for internet applications is rather dearth, but Google seems to have strong chances of survival.   

Google will be around for a while, since the company always manages to come out with new, competitive ideas before other businesses do.  John Battelle’s blog this week announced that Microsoft recently expanded its online office applications to extend their usage to smaller businesses.  Google has been offering this service for quite some time, making its position more advantageous compared to Microsoft.  Google also announced on its blog this week that they are working to simplify their search engine.  People will be able to produce more targeted results within a web listing, even by conducting searches using broad terminology.  This represents yet another original innovation on the company’s behalf.     

What I found particularly disturbing was all the consequences these modern implementations are going to have on our privacy.  The fact that everything is traceable online, including all your personal information makes a person more cautious about what they disclose overall.  The book also summarizes some of the major issues revolving around the Patriot Act, which has essentially given freedom to the government of monitoring people’s personal communications.   

However, I think there’s also a positive side to the privacy factor that is often overlooked.  Having access to people’s information online may prove particularly useful in certain scenarios.  Various instances in which having access to personal information could be useful is for tracing down criminals, journalists gathering facts for their stories (as explained by Battelle), finding contact information, or connecting with people from your past.  Although people may not see this as a benefit of the system right now, the innovation may help gain transparency in the long run in today’s society.  People who have nothing to hide should have nothing to fear.     

What I found most interesting was the book’s description of the various applications Google may create in the future.  Some of the ideas suggested by Battelle included being able to compare product prices by adding a search engine to your cell phone or having access to the yellow pages in digital format.  The Washington Post’s Official tech blog writes this week about a new Google application where people can link their personal calendars and commitments both on the web and their phones.  Who would have thought a few years ago that all this would be possible? I can foresee Google inserting their technology to many aspects of our daily lives.  As new advancements are implemented, other laws will also be created to limit the extent to that these applications can be used.    

Compared to the readings we did in the book this past week, I found the second half of the book to be more interesting. The first half of the book focuses on how Google became a successful business, while the second half deals more with how Google will affect us personally.  It’s important for people to realize the exposure of the web and how it may impact one’s lifestyle.

When relating this book to other authors we have read, Gillmor, Israel, Scoble would all agree with the fact that Google plays an important role in the digital age. However, Gillmor, Israel and Scoble would probably argue that the advancement of Google will be more a product of people’s influence, rather than Google influencing people’s lifestyle.  The three authors seem to attribute more responsibility to people being the ones bringing about change.  Battelle seems to suggest that the search engine will be responsible for bringing about changes.  No matter which way one looks at it, it is evident that digital applications are incorporating into people’s lifestyles. 

I’m sure that Battelle would agree with the notion that working for a company like Google is not easy.  Many blog and news articles often portray the executives of Google as being cut throat businessmen that are reticent when talking to the public.  The Search Engine Watch Blog reported this week about Google CEO Eric Schmidt refusing to answer a CNET news reporter’s questions.  Whether this was done deliberately or was simply Schmidt’s personal choice, we’ll never know. However, the pressure for Google to constantly innovate and stay ahead of its competitors is difficult to surmount.  Many news reports and blogs, including this one from GigaOM, have speculated on Sheryl Sandberg decision to leave Google to join Facebook. Will she be able to turn Facebook into an equally lucrative business as Google is? Only time will tell.  

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