Nicholas Carr introduces a theme that will become more compelling as each day goes by I think, about the New York Times’s surfacing of older news through a recent search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. The tactic also surfaces a new moral dilemma: should inaccuracies in old stories, long-since forgotten, be freshly corrected simply because the old stories gain fresh life in Google results, directly from the NYT’s contrivance? Nicholas Carr asks if the SEO campaign is “manipulating the Web’s memory.” The comments to this article are extremely valuable, and the whole piece is a good read. See: Should the Net forget?
Tom Foremski has made some good collateral points to the dilemma that Nicholas Carr points up. Foremski has argued in the past that there should be a “Right to Respond” embedded into the data retrieving culture of the Web – something like a little box by the side of each Google result for example, where a wronged individual could move to correct the record as it appears.
In his latest treatment of this theme, The ironic hand of God – the need for a right to respond on the Internet, Tom Foremski tells a wonderfully ironic story that actually impacted Google itself in terms of skewed information.
We live fully immersed now in an age of Web 2.0, and to me the defining characteristic of this is that the Web has moved from read-only to a read-write medium. Speaking to Nicholas Carr’s story, the ability to correct the record need not rest with Google or the NYT, but it would be useful if the data could be tagged accurately.
These stories are the beginning edge of the Semantic Web, also thought of as 3.0. It refers to a playing field leveled by the overarching need for clean data. The entire infrastructure has to become correctable, wiki-like.
I think that ultimate clean data across the global network will require the eternal vigilance of every one of its participants, and the infrastructure should evolve to become rewriteable at every single touchpoint.
We quoted James Cherkoff recently making a point that folds nicely into this mix, in his piece from July observing that the personal data of the individual – currently monetized by agregators – actually holds value that the individual could monetize directly. See Personal Data – New Rivers of Gold?
And Jeff Jarvis almost two years ago made what to my reading was the seminal stab in this direction with his Who owns the wisdom of the crowd? The crowd. In this fledgling age of crowdsourcing, micropayment systems are already well established, both in thought and deed.
Nicholas Carr in his following article today discusses Google’s new patent applications for a system of ad delivery sent from individual friend to individual friend. See Google’s friend-to-friend ad network. He detects a slight whiff of spam here, and wonders at the commercialization of the formerly intimate.
And maybe the opposite will happen as well, that formerly discursive communication will sharpen to include a conclusive call to action.
Note that the payment structure for friend referrals is not yet clear, and we now have an interesting dilemma ourselves: our non-commercial friendship connections are valuable in terms of privacy, but when monetization becomes possible, which of the two forces do we root for, non-commercialization or the justice of micropayments? Who becomes Caesar, and what is he owed?