Google world

I read that Google are filing a patent in the US for their latest search algorithm that determines the “truth” of a news story based on a number of factors such as “amount of important coverage produced by a source, the amount of traffic it attracts, circulation statistics, staff size, breadth of coverage and number of global operations” (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1509281,00.html). This may on the face of it seem like a reasonable idea since the web is awash with information that is of questionable accuracy. The problem to me seems that what happens when a genuine news story of real importance fails to get reported to the world at large because the big news outlets won’t carry it. This sounds like paranoia and conspiracy theory but you’d be suprised about what doesn’t get put out by the the likes of CNN, BBC, etc… Also, much depends on the cultural background of the news agencies. They almost all US/Europe based (in English). Reporting news like the build up to the Iraq war (or invasion depending on you point of view) was clearly slanted towards the “war on terror” vision of the world. And that’s the problem: point of view. The “truth” depends greatly on who’s telling it, and who you’re telling it to.

Returning to the main point, Google are in a very powerful position to control what the world at large sees as news. I just hope that the independence of the web (which is not strictly a reality anyway) isn’t further eroded into bland corperatism and govermental control. Control of information is what goverments like to have and they’ve never liked the web much. Funny how Google have happily colluded with the Chinese goverment to control what sites Chinese citizens can find. What about everyone else? I think I’m lurching into paranoia again and that isn’t the impression I want to give. I’m just saying keep your eyes open.

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