Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Silicon Valley Conversations: The Googleverse

During the last week, a group of panelists joined in discussing different aspects of the Google story, focusing on its accomplishments and ambitions, with the full commentary at SiliconValley.com. Each of us brought our own perspective, so I am sharing this with our readers:

"While much of this conversation has focused on Google as a company, I look at Google through the eyes of a researcher trying to find answers. Google changed the market for online information by making the world of HTML content more easily accessible and enabling mashups such as maps and addresses, which were difficult to do in a different technical environment. But there's a universe of information that's not accessible, premium content, and the content in databases as well...as Gary Price documents so very well at www.ResourceShelf.com . Then go over and look at http://www.docuticker.com/ see the variety of reports being generated by our tax money and non-profit organizations.

I see two challenges finding this content in Google, and reasons to move to other resources. The first is that general search engine technology is still in its infancy for retrieving relevant information. (Vertical search works very well for this problem!) Books and reports don't have PageRank, but are authoritative sources. There are some brilliant minds working on this aspect of retrieval, so this area should improve. It's startling how different the search results can be in different search engines.

The second challenge is much more intractable, and that is rights management which has always been messy (even worse than water rights), and has become more so in the digital age. Steve Arnold has mentioned that legal issues could have a significant impact on Google. I have to second that....the engineering mentality and brashness of youth doesn't recognize that content producers own their intellectual property and have the right to determine usage. Granting permission is a fundamental aspect of content management, and Google has to grow up to understand the implications of that. They could find themselves with Microsoft sized legal bills, and court mandated changes to their business.........."
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