April 21, 2004

gate keepers

This panel pitted the fear of discrepancies in search returns against the fear of a uniform result. (Think Hindeman's 'All roads lead to Rome' versus Machill's BBC rule: 'Never rely on one source.') It seems to me the user who wants to make some personal headway in correcting both imbalances should determine to click on random links from search results (instead of first, second, third,... in the rankings). In discussing the effect of using one search engine over another, or relying on multiple search engines instead of just one, we're leaving out the variable of results ranking, which equally impacts these fears.

It makes you wonder if one day there will be a real debate over whether search engines should be regulated. As Ben pointed out, search engines function as gatekeepers. As they have increasing repercussions on the economy--promoting (however inadvertently) certain online businesses while prejudicing others, it seems inevitable that the push for more public control will increase.

Posted by abigail at April 21, 2004 03:17 PM
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