I wish I’d blogged our Europe trip more here and I think I’ll start posting a play by play with pictures – maybe a post a day for each of the 19 days we were in Europe.
In the meantime check out the blogging family European Adventure at Travel and History
Excuse me for butting in…but I’m the new Director at the soon to re-launch Kinderstart.com, and I stumbled upon your blog from a few years ago regarding the KS/Google lawsuit and Professor Goldman’s defense of Google (May 2006).
Here’s what I sent to Eric Goldman last night – thought you might enjoy:
“Hi Professor Goldman,
This is very old news by now – the Kinderstart vs Google lawsuit.
You expressed an opinion about that suit.
One of your key declarations was this:
“Google, like every other search engine operator, has made that determination for its users, exercising its judgment and expressing its opinion about the relative significance of websites in a manner that has made it the search engine of choice for millions.”
I’m not a lawyer, but one very basic question – the kind that laws/lawyers/law professors somehow manage to circumvent from time to time – was never adequately addressed by any of the Google defenders: one day, thousands (by several accounts up to 1 million a month) of freely acting individuals accessed Kinderstart (did the site provide them a useful service?) and the next day those same thousands were denied access to that site by a third party entity – why? Whose judgement about the usefulness of anything is supposed to be paramount in a free market? What individuals were asking for Google’s benign/paternalistic intercession and editing of choices on their behalf?
Google, at the end of the day, is nothing more than a hi-tech yellow pages. Period. It is gargantuan, successful, powerful, but a yellow pages nonetheless. Last time I looked, the yellow pages did not eliminate listees (unless they are profain or breaking laws) based on their subjective judgment about a listees “significance”. The only yellow pages that might contemplate such a strategy would be a monopoly or near monopolistic entity – does that describe Google?
Google, at that time, was posing as an objective instrument, an unbiased conduit to Internet content………..only it wasn’t. It professed algorithmically clean-hands & complete objectivity, but in fact, it acted just the opposite. The suit was largely about establishing that fact – that Google acted subjectively and was essentially lying and deceptive to the public about it’s practices, listing criteria etc.
Google was understandably uncomfortable about probing this issue – afterall, how many corporate entities want to be accurately and fully revealed for who and what they truly are? In the world of business a little truth is good, but too much truth tends to mess up ROI or a long range business plan. Can’t have that. BP wants people to watch their ads and dream about “greenwashing” and “low carbon diets”…….some truth in that, but a bigger truth, and a nightmare, sits out in the Gulf of Mexico.
I’m writing about this because Kinderstart is about to re-launch (with quite updated features/content to complement its screened directory)…….and I’ve always felt that Kinderstart detractors missed the heart of the issue – that a large, powerful, politically connected entity seeking to quash competition edited and limited the choice of hundreds of thousands of freely acting consumers – and who cared about that? Not Google and apparently not the law.