July 17, 2003

All Google all the time. "Digging for Googleholes: Google may be our new god, but it's not omnipotent" by Steven Johnson is an article in Slate about the holes & biases in Google searching. It's interesting that he rightly points out that much of the search results you get are skewed towards companies selling products, but then he complains that too many journals are putting their articles online in pdf. He laments the fact that no one is putting their books available online for free, thus biasing his research process against books and towards articles: "Assuming this practice continues, and assuming that Google continues to grow in influence, we may find ourselves in a world where, if you want to get an idea into circulation, you're better off publishing a PDF file on the Web than landing a book deal." An interesting thought. To somewhat subvert himself, though, he concluding by saying maybe he shouldn't be doing his research on Google at all: "We're wrong to think of Google as a pure reference source. It's closer to a collectively authored op-ed page—filled with bias, polemics, and a skewed sense of proportion—than an encyclopedia."

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