In his Launch blog this morning, Jason Calacanis chided Google for “being naughty”—for straying from its “do no evil” roots, and arbitrarily changing its algorithms. Jason said that despite this, the Government shouldn’t step in.
Let me start by agreeing with Jason: the Government should definitely not get involved; this is none of its business. I also agree that Google should pay content providers—and users—for content that it “borrows” and profits from.
But I disagree, vehemently, with Jason’s other complaints. Google has every right to change its search algorithms whenever it pleases. And, whilst its Feb. 24 Panda update made things slightly better for web users, it didn’t go nearly far enough.
Jason says that Google’s updates are crushing startups and costing jobs. If this is true, that is really sad. Could it be that the people losing their jobs are assigned the wrong jobs; that they are being paid to create spam rather than quality content?
In my New Year’s Day post, which helped set off a firestorm against Google, I explained that we desperately need a new (and better) Google because the web has become a jungle, a tropical paradise for spammers. Web users can’t easily do such searches in Google any more, because every search takes you to websites that want you to click on links that make them money, or to sponsored sites that make Google money. If we continue down this path, the web will eventually become unusable, and far more jobs will be lost. This is like polluters dumping garbage in a lake: it’s tolerable to a point, but after a while, the lake itself dies. All Google has done in changing its algorithms is to defend itself from such pollution.
Jason also argues that Google should create a calendar of algorithm updates and inform the ecosystem of its plans; that it should be transparent about its algorithms. But why? The producers of worthy, quality content have nothing to fear, and they don’t need to plan on how to game the system, and normal users don’t need such information.
The question we need to ask is: who owns the web? I would argue that it is the user. Therefore, all efforts should be made to keep the web clean and pristine. Keep the polluters out.
Jason told me that his company, Mahalo, is now focused on producing very high quality video and other great content. So it is also in Mahalo’s interest to put the large-scale polluters out of business. I applaud Google’s efforts.