Some interesting news this morning, via Dave Winer, that of all the mentions of Disney CEO Michael Eisner online - not just material published by Disney or its subsidiary ABC, but every article online from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Forbes, The Economist and so on -
the top result on Google is Tim O’Reilly’s recent weblog on Eisner’s disingenuous comments before a Senate subcommittee on the Internet and copyright. (A post by Dave Winer is number two.)
First reaction: That’s amazing and fantastic! Google’s the most respected search engine on the web these days (previous title holders, though we don’t like to admit it, included Hotbot, Alta Vista, and Yahoo) and it’s found a way to punch through the grip of big-name corporate media, the East Coast gatekeepers of sanctioned news. It’s a happy day when a dissenting opinion gets so prominent a voice.
Counter reaction: Google’s being weakened by its reliance on webloggers and their crosslinks. Tim’s blog is interesting, but even though he signs my paycheck, I can’t convince myself that his comments on Eisner’s testimony are the most important source on Eisner on the Web. The prominence of Tim’s blog is a great chuckle among those of us who have our noses stuck so far up the weblog/Google/RSS information chain that we can’t see daylight unless someone blogs it. But it could make it a less valuable tool for mainstream (whatever that is) users. You may not like Disney or its behavior, but Eisner has been one of the most important figures in the business of Media over the past 20 years. Disney’s such a powerful force these days that we forget that it was on the ropes when Eisner took the helm in the mid 1980s. Someone researching Eisner online might want to know that.
I raised a similar point a few weeks ago with a prominent blogger who declined to politely agree and nod gravely at my concern. Bloggers, he pointed out, are a highly intelligent lot. And if they decide to vote with their links that something is important, it is. True: but bloggers are hardly any more representative than the folks at the Washinton Press Club. Like journalists, they have their biases: they lean towards the left, they lean towards the techy, and they lean towards open source.
If Google wants to evolve into a functional resource for all users, it will have to work itself off this current path, or it will open up an opportunity for The Next Great Search Engine.