John Dvorak write an essay in PC Magazine entitled "Why Google Must Die." It's a pithy article on search engine optimization (SEO) and the SEO tricks that are in play to work best with Google or get around a Google feature. This is an an essay that I never would have noticed had it not been referenced in a posting by Stephen Abram that I very much took notice of, also entitled "Why Google Must Die."
His post is a response to the often-heard suggestion that OPACs, federated search, and web site search engines should be "just like Google." He asks what should be implemented first:
1. Should I start manipulating the search results of library users based on the needs of advertisers who pay for position?There's more to the post. I admire a forthright post like this that pushes back on the assertion that doing things the Google way is automatically better.
2. Should I track your users' searches and offer different search results or ads based on their private searches?
3. Should I open library OPACs and searches to 'search engine optimization' (SEO) techniques that allow special interest groups, commercial interests, politicians (as we've certainly seen with the geotagged searches in the US election this year), racist organizations (as in the classic MLK example), or whatever to change results?
4. Should I geotag all searches, using Google Maps, coming from colleges, universities or high schools because I can ultimately charge more for clicks coming from younger searchers? Should I build services like Google Scholar to attract young ad viewers and train or accredit librarians and educators in the use of same?
5. Should I allow the algoritim to override the end-user's Boolean search if it meets an advertiser's goal?
6. "Evil," says Google CEO Eric Schmidt, "is what Sergey says is evil." (Wired). Is that who you want making your personal and institutional values decisions?
I used to have lengthy discussions with a library administrator in a past job who wanted image searching to be just like Google images, because searches on a single word like "horse" would always produce images of horses at the top of the results. It was a lot of effort to explain that this was somewhat artificial, due to the sheer number of images and, that, in the absence of descriptive metadata, that having the string "horse" in the file name would ensure that they would be near the top of the list and that Google didn't actually recognize that it was an image of a horse. Sorry, we really did need to expend effort on descriptive metadata.