If you search Google for…
…then, as a reader of O’Reilly weblogs, you’re probably going to see the kinds of results that you expected to find. But as the majority of people in the world aren’t web developers, are these results what most people would expect? If I asked someone in the street to tell me the most relevant thing they could about ‘ruby’ or ‘python’, it almost certainly wouldn’t be to do with the programming language.
From a quick glance at job vacancies on the Guardian website (one of the major newspapers in the UK), only about 1.8% of jobs have ‘development’ or ‘internet’ in them (limiting the search to just IT and Telecoms). So, in theory, the Google results would only be relevant for about 2% of the general population.
Which isn’t exactly the whole story, of course. Most people searching for ‘python’ on the web today are almost certainly searching for the programming language (i.e. the web population is different to the general ‘offline’ population). So is Google correct? Or is this a chicken and the egg situation, and - like the Nintendo Wii - the web will primarily be targeted at the hardcore until someone dares to design a system that targets the mainstream ‘non user’ over the tried and tested current user base? What other side effects could be caused by ‘web developers’ (or techies) being the people who put the most content on the web, and hence disproportionately telling Google what is ‘important’?