The objective of the Methodology Blog of the Program on Networked Governance at Harvard University is to serve as a forum for discussion regarding theories and methodologies for social network analysis and complexity theory. There was a nice post on Google bombs last week. The post says, “The term "Google bomb" basically describes a misapplication of knowledge on the Google's search algorithms and results.” It adds, “it is indirectly an example of global network building and collective action of website owners and bloggers based on a common idea or opinion.” It then offers a discussion on Google approach to search including some principles:
1. Links are essential to determine the rank/importance of a page
2. The page weight/importance (i.e. a university > personal website)
3. Topicality (How often a website is updated)
4. Other aspects related to web or blog content
…which we all know leads to the prominence of blogs in Google search results and is another example of the power of data mining web participation that I have discussed a bit before eg., More on Web 2.0: Some Poster Children and Why.
The example, of linking George Bush to the search term “failure” raises some interesting questions as the post states: What can the internet community achieve with this form of voice? How will governments react to such movements of altering the search results in an unfavorable way in the future as knowledge becomes more important? How will search engine providers react?
There is a real free speech danger here. The results could also be interpreted not as an “alternation” of search results but as a reflection of free speech by the global population who opposes the policies of the current US president as legitimate US and global polls indicate. If search engines have to modify results that are unfavorable to specific governments doesn’t this destroy the free speech of the internet alluded to in the discussion at the Berkman session, Designing the Future of the Internet, that I posted on yesterday?
The post concludes with comments on the importance of knowledge in this century and knowledge creation and knowledge transfer as key research topics. Kudos to that idea.