Tell me if I’m wrong about Google Co-op — because it’s damned near impossible to tell what it is from their description — but it seems to be a closed system for enriching Google but not the internet. That is, it gets us to give Google meta data about sites that are supposed to improve their searches but, so far as I can tell, that data is not available to anyone else. Closed? Evil? You tell me.
Maurice says that Google’s new syndication protocol, which I asked about yesterday, is an indication that Google is putting a gate in the wall around its garden to enable queries into its data. That would be good. But what it really should allow is not just queries into but scraping of its data for that data is our data that we put there in services like Google Base. Why do I care about this? So that new services can come along and aggregate distributed posts — classified ads, listings, reviews, whatever — wherever they are on the internet, in blogs, in other still-closed services, or in open blogs. Now that Google is trying to become a repository of our data, that should be open to the world to aggregate and analyze as Google aggregates others’ data. The Golden Rule of the Google Age should be: Scrape unto others as you would have them scrape unto you. I hope that’s what the new syndication protocol does but I’m still not sure.
The most significant news in Google’s launch of its finance service is that is licensing content from Reuters.
In each of its other endeavors — search, news, shopping, classifieds — Google has maintained an open, albeit uneven, playing field. That wouldn’t work in the case of finance because Google had to integrate data into its presentation and Reuters was wise and happy to sell it to them.
But what this means is that Google is no longer just an aggregator — which, I’ve argued, is a beneficial thing to be for content holders, because an aggregator makes links and links make traffic — but is now a destination that will hold users in and compete with other content.
Yahoo has been in this position for years, after it stopped being merely a directory and source of links (Jerry Yang once said at a meeting I attended that his job was to get people in and out of Yahoo as quickly as possible; that tune soon changed). Yahoo has licensed Associated Press wire content — over the objection of many of its members, for precisely this reason — and built a destination that tries to both keep people in and link out (see its new and rather uninspired local aggregator). The net result is that Yahoo is less effective at creating linked traffic than other portals.
Watch out as Google creeps, as Yahoo did, into the content business and competes with, instead of merely organizing, content. It’s a momentous move.
My latest Media Guardian column — this one about the foolish publishers trying to shut themselves off from Google … and thus the public — is up here (and here). A snippet:
The World Association of Newspapers is portraying Google as an enemy of news. I wouldn’t say that. I’d call Google something between a necessary evil and a friend – and if news organisations are smart, they will learn how to befriend the beast. …
At this month‘s Online Publishers Association conference in London, WAN managing director Ali Rahnema asked: “Could this content exist if someone else wasn’t paying to create it?” Well, in the quaint Americanism of my hillbilly roots, I’d say Rahnema got this bassackwards. Instead, we soon will be asking, “Could this content exist if someone else wasn’t linking to it?”
Ali Rahnema, managing director of the World Association of Newspapers, is pitching the OPA on WAN’s initiative to go after Google News and the aggregators. He acknowledges that some comments he has gotten are positive and some are angry that they are just a dead-tree industry trying to protect themselves. I vote with the latter. They don’t get it. Rahnema asks, could Google News exist if this content were not created by those papers?
That is so much the wrong question. The real question is: Will news organizations in the future exist if they are not found on Google and company?
If you want to boycott search and links, then you will die on paper.
: Rich Karlgaard of Forbes asks the OPA audience whether they agree with Rahnema about Google. Very few raise their hands. He asks who disagrees A vast majority of hands go up. Thank goodness for good sense.
: Obnoxious blogger that I am, I get up to challenge the protectionist panel and said that with their attitude, I fear for the future of the industry and of journalism because the distribution of today is about being found in search and links and aggregation and if you are not there you are not found.
Zach Leonard of Timesonline.com said that aggregators are like newsstands and they are a place to be found.