Home    Files

software times™  Files...
September 2, 2008

Paradign Shift from Directories to Search Engines

Reviewing my Software Times stats I came across a search that makes me want to toot my horn and...

I'm Tooting My Horn!

The search is for "increasing returns." Google reports that there are 803 thousand pages with "increasing returns" and being #1 is reason enough to toot my horn. But that is not all, some of the domains on the results page (SERP) might be familiar to you:
  1. softwaretimes.com
  2. wikipedia.org
  3. useit.com (Jakob Nielsen's website)
  4. books.google.com.pk
  5. santafe.edu/arthur/books
  6. santafe.edu/arthur/papers
  7. economics.about.com
  8. cato.org
  9. amazon.com
  10. web.mit.edu
The above results highlight the progress made from human edited web directories to search engines. These differences are great enough to be called a paradign shift.

If you were an editor putting together a directory about economics, you would have to be out of your mind to put a totally unknown author on top of the list, over people like Brian Arthur, Paul Krugman or Jakob Nielsen, people well known in academia, business and the press.

In the "old order," authority was a prime achievement. You had to prove to your peers that you were an authority on the subject and the way to do it in academia was, and still is, to get published in recognized periodicals. If someone had a grudge against you, it was relatively easy to have you excluded from publication. There is more back-stabbing in academia than in all of Shakespeare's plays put together. In business, of course, the best way to be recognized as an authority is to make several million bucks with insanely great or insanely crappy products.

If there ever was a paradigm shift it is the leveling of the playing field of free speech and publication wrought by search engines on the World Wide Web. In the old order, the prime objective was to maintain or promote your ranking within a guild, profession or other such group and the way to do it was to keep your competitors out. In other words, the protection afforded by the old order was for the "ins" as opposed to the public at large. Yet the old order was cynical enough to state that this exclusionary process was done to protect the public at large from quacks. Some quack Galileo Galilei proved to be, and yes, the church is just one more exclusionary guild.

The new paradigm is to build a search engine that people will love and return to again and again. This loyalty is what backs advertising revenue. Meaningful results for the web surfer is the measure of success of search engines while the professional ranking of the author is moot. Search engines have to ferret out meaningful content as opposed to professional ranking or recognition of the author. While just like in the old order, the prime objective is the benefit to the search engine owner, the indirect effect is the leveling of the playing field of information which benefits mostly the information seekers.

Toot, toot, toot!

Denny Schlesinger

Since results can change daily, I have preserved the results as seen on September 2, 2008:
increasing returns google search.pdf

Home    Files Top

Copyright © Software Times, 2000, 2001, 2003. All rights reserved
Last updated June 22, 2003