Friday 6 July 2007

Fear of Google (FOG)? An alternative called a scraper.

Everything goes in cycles.

That includes topics occupying the various bloggers that we keep an eye on via RSS.

Fear of Google (FOG) is one topic that seems to come and go frequently.

The bigger Google gets, the more frequently I see articles on them and their perceived business practices.

We monitor our logs, and every once in a while an incoming link will catch my curiosity.

One of those links is this: Scroogle is a "scraper". One can go to the site, punch in some search terms, and receive results back from Google's search engine without all of the ads or tracking mechanizms included.

Scroogle acts as a proxy on behalf of the searcher as far as I can tell. This is essentially my first contact with a "scraper".

I understand the mindset behind it. I also believe that to many, it is a legitimate enterprise. I believe that it has its place for those so inclined. And, the more Google's intentions, ethics (or lack thereof), and future use of our data they track comes clear, the more something like Scroogle may be needed.

Google is a young company, riding high on the waves of their huge IPO and market saturation momentum. They are an ad network that looks to be aiming at saturating as close to 100% of the Internet domain with their ads. I do not believe that Google is a search company. They derive their revenue from ads.

Like any young company that explodes into the public domain, the focus can be quite self-centered. And, that is seemingly what I am picking up via the RSS feeds on the subject of FOG.

I do believe that time will truly tell if Google is out to provide products and services to the benefit of humanity (I believe that their saturation has reached that level of responsibility), or whether they are in it for themselves, their pocketbooks, and their shareholder's pocketbooks at any costs.

Remember, huge corporations go through the cycles of naval gazing rather than looking after their customers. Once they get pinched by you and me not spending money on their products and services that have essentially become crap and self-serving, they tend to look beyond their naval. Crimped cash flow gets everyone's attention, especially the bean counters.

It will be the same with Google.

There is a major caveat in this situation though: Google is huge, their reach beyond probably any company in the history of humanity - I could be wrong...point me to others - so, if they fall and hurt us beyond our ability to trust them again, they may indeed kill themselves with one shot.

It is up to them to remain vigilant and not get suckered into temptation of corrupting what is becoming the "absolute power" in the online ad game.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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