Monday, February 09, 2004
I invited a whole mess of people today. I used technorati's new blog search tool (equivalent to feedster) to find some people that have blogged about eurekster. And I sent them invitations to join my network.
Here's my new numbers:
1st degree network: 22
2nd degree network: 124
3rd degree network: 1056
Building on my selfish reason to start Eureksterblog post, I had the following brain fart. If Eurekster becomes a popular search engine, how will SEO's need to adapt.
Trying to get the eureksterblog indexed by the alltheweb is not the easiest thing. I know that one practice that SEO's and the non-professional site owners (like myself) use is exchanging links. Google and atw use links from "important" sites as gauges for the rank of a search result for a given query. So, by having conversations across blogs, when bloggers link to the eureksterblog, eventually the rank of the site will go up for certain queries, like eurekster. That's the goal anyways. Right? (of course with blogs, it is necessary to have compelling content to earn links)
So, if eurekster takes off and becomes a popular search engine, and it became an important web site to optimize for, How would an SEO go about optimizing with Eurekster?
After getting listed high on the index for atw, there would still be work to do. Instead of exchanging links with high [page] rank sites, SEO's would need to network with eurekster members with large networks and ask them to search for certain phrases and click on certain sites. Would this practice be acceptable?
Would it be acceptable to take money (or equivalent favors) from people to search and click on certain sites? Would this be considered spamming Eurekster? Or would this be acceptable? Why? Why Not?
Because eurekster makes something that was once private (more aptly, shared with a search engine company only), the issue of privacy is automatically raised. The first complaint from bloggers about eurekster is privacy. However, I believe that most of the people that quickly complain, are alarmists that have not spent enough time using it to actually see how Eurekster protects the privacy of its users.
Although, I believe the balance between protecting my privacy and the value of personalization is something we still have to determine, full disclosure by companies about privacy related issues is imperative. I believe Eurekster is very good about this.
I personally think that Eurekster has taken many precautions to protect privacy. Some of these are:
- Registration is required before any searches are stored and presented to your network.
- Eurekster does not reveal which terms were searched nor which sites were visited by which individual. It only shows the search terms in aggregate.
- When contacting someone via Eurekster regarding a new search term, the email is blind. The only way that someone will know whether I was the one that searched for "paris hilton video", is if they email me to talk about it and then, I respond. They don't know it was me until I respond.
- The check box enables people to do a "private" search; it doesn't save that you searched for that nor present it to your network.
- From an email from a Eurekster developer:
Taken directly from the eurekster site, in addition to the above safeguards, they also stress:
- You have total control over who is in your direct network of contacts
- We never send unsolicited email
- At any time you can totally unsubscribe and you will not be contacted again
- Our whole service depends on us protecting your privacy
- You can remove a search you have performed or a site you have visited from the recent searches by following the directions above.
Peter raises an important point about the nature of our new public identities -- they are tremendously exposed in ways that we might not think relevant. In a manner similiar to my first thoughts on Orkut, Eurekster essentially openly uses your social network to attach and relate information its algorithms think relevant. Interestingly enough, it seems to view the consumption of potentially pornographic material to be taboo and blocks it from your network's viewing.
Of course, it's not clear why they stopped with porn. There are too many topics that seem to be taboo. It seems that it would be best to 1) not allow any blocking at all considering the "truth" in that approach or 2) allow you to selectively block queries (there's a box marked private search next to the search box -- what's that for?). I'm going to have to investigate more and see how it develops. Link
As always with any conversation about censorship, there is the conversation of where to draw the line. This is what makes censoring futile, imho.
The line is defined by everyone differently. In old media, the expense of censoring content to commonly acceptable standards is small compared to the production cost of the content (except in live music performances with aging pop-stars resorting to sex to sell music). On the web, especially if search queries are considered content, the cost is prohibitive.
Besides the cost, censorship raises other issues, such as the protection of free speech. imho, I don't think the discussion should even be raised when it comes to eurekster, but I am sure there is someone out there that could create the case for it.
My more moderate stance on this issue is the following, which I posted in the comments on Gregory Narain's Socialtwister blog:
Using a centralized censorship model to protect privacy may not be the best solution. Enabling me to view and edit my entire public history may be a better solution. Or atleast allowing each individual to set a preference that turns the pornography filter on or off.
I should be able to censor my own words as well as block pornographic search terms from showing up if my network searches them.
Also, Greg wondered how the privacy check box worked. As I've mentioned b4: The check box enables people to do a "private" search; it doesn't save that you searched for that nor present it to your network.
It might be more prudent to allow users to set the check box by default if they wish, so the chance of forgetting to check it would be eliminated.