Portalization of Google, Redux

By Eric Goldman

A small point excerpted from my forthcoming essay on search engine bias, but one worth sharing.

Google maintains a page entitled “Our Philosophy: Ten Things We Know to Be True.”

On June 3, 2004 (per archive.org), the page said “Google may be the only company in the world whose stated goal is to have users leave its website as quickly as possible.” (emphasis added)

On September 6, 2010, that same line now reads “We may be the only people in the world who can say our goal is to have people leave our homepage as quickly as possible.” (emphasis added)

Why the difference? In 2004, Google’s goal was to send people somewhere else on the web–in other words, to get them off the Google website as quickly as possible. In 2010, Google’s goals are more nuanced, but due to the significant increase in Google’s own services, Google now often wants to send people to other places on Google.com. As Google becomes more portalized, it effectively increases its competition against the rest of the web. The small noun shift in Google’s “Ten Things We Know” is a microcosm of that shift.

For more on this topic, see:

* my short 2005 post, The Portalization of Google

* The Problems with Google House Ads

* NYT Editorial: the Google Algorithm. The editorial’s normative arguments are terrible, but its factual predicates are relevant here.

* Texas AG Investigating Google Search, and I Have Questions. The Biggest: Are You Kidding Me???

* Search Engine Bias and the Demise of Search Engine Utopianism

Unless something huge breaks, I’ll see you next week. L’shanah tovah!

UPDATE: Google is characterizing this language change as “a small editing change made (about a year ago, actually) unconsciously by a proofreader” and that they will be reverting the edit. OK, sure, whatever. You can fix the language, but the portalization process is irreversible.