I’m not an expert in search but I do get the feeling that algorithms based on reputation, the number of links pointing to particular content and other mathematical wizardry are not necessarily drawing our attention to the best stuff out there.
Reputation, whilst a clear indicator of knowledge in a particular field, depends precisely on one choosing to specialise in just one area of knowledge. Is this really what our society needs right now? It seems to me that specialisms are crowding out our ability to communicate with each other, creating – in a way – Chinese walls that don’t allow us to understand the implications of another area for our own.
In this sense, we may be missing out on many otherwise fruitful connections which could help our complex civilisations out of the holes they are gradually finding themselves sinking in to.
What do I propose then? A series of search processes which allow us to discover and define the quality and value of a piece of content in absolute, potentially productive and creative terms – not in terms of how many people have linked to it or who the author is or which website has published it.
Yes. To mention just one kind of latterday endeavour, this would inevitably turn the world of online advertising upside down – but aren’t such distortions of our access to truly imaginative and original work already negatively affecting the futures of our communities? Don’t we need to turn upside down how “really good stuff” is being ignored? Isn’t it time we focussed on properly added value – rather than that cleverly massaged SEOed information we generally get these days?
A disclaimer before we finish: I regularly blog over at 21st Century Fix – and I blog on a broad range of subjects. In a way, it’s a kind of Renaissance Man-style blog – not because of its quality (that, after all, would be for you to judge not me) but simply because I’m prepared to take on any range of subjects. Yes. It’s a brainstorming blog, where I follow trains of thoughts to their ultimate consequences. As such, it’s very difficult to build up a reputation in anything. Hits-wise, it’s a modest blog. Ambition-wise, it’s pretty significant.
From the kind of algorithms I’m suggesting we develop, I would be the first to benefit.
Even so, and in the light of such self-interest, don’t you think I might have a point?