Erik Sundelöf

entrepreneur, thinker and Swede

Google Search Results – A Place for Alternative Voices?

150 150 eriks

I read this post at the OnlineJournalismBlog that covers a post from the SEObook.com. It raises a few very interesting questions, but the primary one is whether Google Search Results Pages are really the right place for alternative voices? However do alternative voices have another good outlet is the second question you have to ask yourself?

First of all Google’s business is primarily designed to get revenue from SEM (Search Engine Marketing), and the nature of PageRank is specifically designed to make the most reputable voices (i.e. websites) heard first. Diversity will disappear though per definition. It is kind of intended (somewhat simplified). Originally to make informative, on-point search results. However you get the trust, but will effectively filter out the diversity and weaker voices.

The second issue is that a search result page (and Google’s in particular) is designed to show clear, on-point single entries. It shows you The Answer. Nothing wrong with that but diversity comes from several answers. :-)

Now over the the more interesting question: Is a search engine the “right” place for a diverse media outlet? I would say no. The irony however is that the technology behind a search engine can be used for it, but the purpose of a search engine is not inline with the presentation of alternative, diverse voices. It is a complex topic indeed, but once again brings up the issues we have seen presented in the movie EPIC 2014. I know, I know. It is a very common link in all my blogs, but it is so on-point and highlights the challenges we have right now pretty well.

I guess we have to start asking ourselves what type of media outlet we would like to see in the future and who that actors on this new media arena will be. My bet is not a Google Search Result Page is the right place for it, and probably never will be in the traditional sense. Can Google be an actor? Sure, but I doubt that too. It would be sidestepping their core business.

The most common failure of any community site

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The challenge is to as a company be open and diverse in itself, as well as really listen to the community. I have seen so many community sites fail because they try to stick down their own beliefs, preconceptions and opinions down the throat of their community. Or even worse speak about themselves in the sense of “I did this…” or “I did that…”. Self-glorification should be banned from any representative for the company, and constant self-reflection strongly recommended. Ask yourself this. Which party would you go to? The one where the host/hostess only want to show off, or the party in the park where it is come as you are and you feel like one with the group.

Inviting a community is “simple”, yet one of the most challenging things to attempt. It is about realizing that what you as a community site think is completely non-important. You have to genuinely speak, think and breath community in all your interaction and realize that communities are not built, they are invited. It is not about design. It is not about functionality. It is about people. People come if they feel connected and invited. You have to realize that you are but only a part of the community. You have to become the community.

Think of your role as a company as being the shepherd. Your role is to keep the sheep together and to find them grass and leafs to eat. Telling the sheep how to be sheep doesn’t really work or make sense. Yet so many community sites try to do that.

Home

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It is a very nice feeling, yet strange. It is very refreshing to get perspectives on things. A lot has happened, and still happens. It is like being is this tumbling roller-coaster where you never know if it is gonna be a valley or hill, a twist or turn, or if the roller-coaster is upside-down or downside-down. It sure is intriguing though.

Topical Content Mashups and Content-Based Networking

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Traditional media has for a long time been dominated by syndication of content as a revenue stream. The big news agencies Reuters, AP, AFP and so forth have with great success built their businesses’ around syndication of content (or financial data in the case of Reuters) in a walled-garden type of manner. You subscribe to a news wire which feeds you content. This model is outdated as the freedom of distribution together with an ever so improving accessibility of content on the web has forever changed this. This is very much similar to the enormous disruption of file sharing the the music industry has faced since a few some years back, who had a similar walled-garden attitude of their market. Content is just too accessible, completely borderless, cheap and free from any major constraints these days. The news industry is starting to realize this fact and is starting to take few trembling steps but still makes the same mistakes as the music industry made.

A few weeks back I wrote a blog entry in which I stated that syndication is an out-dated model. It might be a bit too bold to claim that fully, but yet news wires are outdated in their traditional sense. They as the music industry have to realize that the scenery has changed. The future of media will be conversational, more free, more interactive, more collaborative, and more diverse of perspectives. The traditional news wire concept does not fit very well here. The future of news wires is topically defined content streams rather than the blunt broadcasting via news wires, and this will be based on the interests of the consumers. (Cf keyword targeted advertising versus billboard advertising.) I am fully aware of the challenges here and that the future laid out in EPIC 2014, is something we all have to be constantly aware of and reflect upon.

News wires as well as other content will compliment and support other content, and mashupped with other content to provide the consumers with insight of how these content pieces are related. Basically it is about showing all the different views and perspectives about the real happening or opinion to shed more light on the multifaceted reality we live in. The cool part is that this becomes something very entertaining and engaging. It makes the news more tangible and relatable, which helps creators, producers, and consumers in all their roles of the media scene. Each can focus on what they are supposed to be focusing on: creators on the creation part, producers on the production and most importantly readers will have the content ready and packaged. Yep, the future is really content packaging.

Now over to the mind blowing component. As you make the news and opinions more tangible and relatable you will make it much easier to have a conversation about it You have all the pieces there, all the angles and hey are are all graspable and human. The conversational aspect of the media together with the content mashup creates room for something as cool as content-based social networking – networking based on your interests, and not necessarily “friendship”. Most people’s content-based network will be bigger than their circle of friends event though it is likely that your friends are part of your content-based network. Why? Well it really is as easy we tend to discuss topics with a much broader group of people than solely our friends. What is different thought is that it is more organic, it is different based on topic, on location and on your mood. It is constantly evolving and growing as you grow. It is an organic creature that constantly shifts and reforms. Basically it is the online dinner table, coffee or pub conversation bringing a human face to any topic around the world – from the local to the global level. Now imagine if you could tie in the cellphone component and you have a very yummy mixture that lets anyone discuss anything with anyone at any time – borderless, raw and human. Did I tell you it is pretty darn entertaining too?

Wow! That’s neat!