The Google Economy — The Wikipedia Entry

I’m rather passionate about the Google Economy, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to learn that I just wrote about it in my first ever Wikipedia entry.

Here it is:

“Google Economy” identifies the concept that the value of a resource can be determined by the way that resource is linked to other resources. It is more complex than search ranking, and broader than interlinked web pages, though it draws meaning from both.

The Internet and World Wide Web have emphasized the role of the citation as a means of identifying the value of a resource. The structure of the print publishing world imposes strict limits on what information is promoted and distributed, but the web imposes much lower barriers to ‘publication,’ eliminating the old-media filters that information consumers once depended on to identify worthy information. Internet Search engines were developed to help navigate the growing number of web pages, but their results could not represent the value of individual pages until Google‘s Larry Page and Sergey Brin started to apply the concept of citation analysis that was developed in the 1950s by Dr. Eugene Garfield{.new} at the University of Pennsylvania. Today, Google’s PageRank weighs heavily on citation analysis among the more than 150 criteria evaluated.

The result is that the PageRank of any single web page is highly dependent on the number of web pages that link to it (and their PageRank). The highest ranked pages appear at the top of the search results page. The financial implication for commercial web sites are obvious (and often exploited), but there are serious implications for non-commercial content as well. A person doing any research on the web will find his or her results heavily influenced by PageRank-style ranking. Accurate and correct information that is poorly linked will have lower ranking than incorrect or misleading information that is better linked. Because many of the most authoritative information sources — examples: medical journals{.’external.text’.title=}, the Oxford English Dictionary{.’external.text’.title=} — are subscription services, their content is not available for indexing by search engines, and by extension, to those using search engines for research.

Even among free services — many library catalogs, for instance — it can be difficult to index the information because of technical obstacles like dynamic URLs that make it difficult to deep link to content or explicit prohibitions in the robots.txt. The result is that a person searching for a book is far more likely to find the catalog page or blog posts discussing the book long before they will find any library offering the book for loan.

As with market economies, the Google Economy is subject to uncertainties, fluctuation, and occasional manipulation. Manipulators do so, however, at serious risk, as search engines have been known to blacklist them from results pages. Further, search engine engineers continue to refine ranking criteria to deliver quality search results. In general, however, there are three rules for full participation in the Google Economy:

  • Linking must be possible
  • Linking must be desirable
  • Linking must be measurable

External links