IT Confidential: Hey, Google, Are You Paying Attention? - InformationWeek
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3/24/2006
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John Soat
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IT Confidential: Hey, Google, Are You Paying Attention?

Check It Out: Privacy, Pornography, Microsoft

I'm going to write about PRIVACY, PORNOGRAPHY, and MICROSOFT. That's because Google likes PRIVACY, PORNOGRAPHY, and MICROSOFT.

Google dominates what is referred to as the "blogosphere," the hyperlinked affiliation of blog pages, news sites, and personal sites that constitutes our online news delivery system and increasingly informs our definition of modern-day journalism. Google's news search feature trolls those sites and ranks the most popular news stories and blogs found there, and its news pages reflect those rankings.

Based on complicated Web metrics, no doubt, Google consistently favors certain topics in its news search feature and on its news pages--for instance, PRIVACY, PORNOGRAPHY, and MICROSOFT. It's a dirty little secret of online journalism that news organizations try to cater to those likes (and dislikes), emphasizing certain topics, such as PRIVACY, PORNOGRAPHY, and MICROSOFT, in order to get noticed by Google. If your article or blog or column gets picked up by Google in its news search feature, you'll most likely get thousands (and thousands) of hits on your Web page, which represent potential ad revenue. So, let's experiment: I'll write about PRIVACY, PORNOGRAPHY, and MICROSOFT, and we'll see what happens.

PRIVACY: I don't understand why citizens get so upset about government spying when the real online Peeping Toms are hackers and virus writers. In a secret memo made public by the Wall Street Journal, Visa blamed Fujitsu's point-of-sale software for the potential theft of millions of debit card personal-identification numbers. Instead of lobbying Congress, why aren't citizens lobbying Visa officials for more disclosure about security problems and better data safeguards?

PORNOGRAPHY: We've got to let the government regulate pornography on the Internet. The proliferation of online porn is demeaning and dangerous. Porn is a $3 billion-a-year business, and it won't go away, even when Congress is able to pass laws--that stay passed--to help protect children from predators and exposure to inappropriate material. Nor will it erode our fundamental right to free speech.

MICROSOFT: There's something about Microsoft that reminds me of the Bush administration. The United States is at the zenith of its power and influence in the world; the same could be said of Microsoft and the technology industry. Will Windows Vista, Microsoft's next-generation operating system, maintain the company's dominance and extend it into areas Microsoft hasn't yet penetrated? Or are we already witnessing a chipping away at Microsoft's influence, and Vista will become a protracted struggle from which Microsoft will never recover?

There, now, I can just sit back and let the online readers come to me. It doesn't matter, really, what I write or how people interpret what I write, just as long as I write about PRIVACY, PORNOGRAPHY, and MICROSOFT, and Google notices. The blogosphere: It's a wonderful thing.

I don't mean to diminish the Internet cult of personality. If I mention Paris Hilton or Johnny Depp or Jessica Simpson, I'm sure to get picked up by Google--in fact, that's why I just did. Drop me a name, or an industry tip, at jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326.

The News Show is a faithful servant of the cult of personality. See it, and them, at noon EST every weekday, at TheNewsShow.tv.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page.

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