Google, SEO, Knol and the rest of the world

Google recently launched Knol, their wikipedia competitor which allows experts to own articles. The concept is interesting because Wikipedia allows free-for-all authorship, and by making the articles edited by experts and listing their owners clearly on the knol, Google hopes it will get higher quality content. The editors will stake their prestige on the quality of the content, and overtime Google could also share Adsense revenue with them.

However, a has also raised quite a storm in the teacup since people are speculating that Google will take undue advantage of its search traffic to drive usage of knol. Google has pretty much become the traffic policeman of the new web — telling people where to go, and getting them there through its vast knowledge of the contours of the internetland. However, as is often the case in India, what do you do when lawmakers become lawbreakers? When a cop’s car breaks traffic rules, do you give them a ticket? While I am hopeful Google will not quite reach the level of Indian police (or even Bennet, Coleman & Co.), but the question of Knol getting undue advantage (as against the much better established Wikipedia) can not be brushed aside.

The importance of Google’s dominance of the web came to the fore front yesterday during a discussion at the Open Coffee Club’s first meeting in Kolkata yesterday. Angshuman of Taragana complained that he had a hard time when Google dropped him out of their indexes for some reason he is yet to figure out. While he has several conjectures such as his wordpress translation plugin due to Google might have labelled all his pages as duplicate/spam, or changing his URL syntax using mod_rewrite, he couldn’t really figure out what the problem was. Using the webmaster tools wasn’t much help either. Finally, the way he resolved it was by telling the Google representative that he would stop his Adsense spending if his website wasn’t restored — he claims that is the only thing that works with Google. Being dumped by Google indices is quite scary for any website owner, almost like not being reachable from the Start button on a windows box, and there needs to be better mechanism to deal with such ‘mistakes’.

Microsoft has often been accused of using its Windows strength to push its other services, and now Google could do the same. While Google has been the poster child of the internet, and we all continue to use its services in good faith, ignoring trespasses into content creation space, brushing aside its transgressions as mere mistakes — one can hear whispers today and one expects them to soon transform into noises. The onus is on Google to uphold its “don’t be evil” philosophy, and communicate its positive action proactively to the rest of the world. It has already done well for the last few years, but the time has come to be more open, more forthcoming, and more accommodating, or might find itself in the same boat as what Microsoft, AT&T and other monopolies have been in the past.

The sub-prime crisis from K@W

Just discovered a great resource on YouTube — Knowledge@Wharton has a channel there. See this video on the sub-prime crisis:

To add to the video, I have also heard that once the sub-prime crisis started making its presence felt, the prices of the homes the sub-prime borrowers had bought fell and they realized that the amount they would pay was lower than what they would get by selling the houses. That only precipitated the crisis.

There are more interesting videos on the channel, including this one — an interview with Sunil Mittal where he talks about entrepreneurship and his beginnings in the bicycle industry.

One Journey ends. Another Begins.

As I just finish one journey, a wonderful journey, at a wonderful place which has been a home more than home for the last two years — colleagues who have been more than friends, and seniors who have been such wonderful people, I can’t but feel a tinge of nostalgia, a small feeling of void that can not be put into words. As I started writing my goodbye mail, I found myself deleting sentences again and again, because I realized that whatever I might say could not do justice to the experience I have had. Finally I settled for the words of Rabindranath Tagore:

I have got my leave. Bid me farewell, my brothers!
I bow to you all and take my departure.

Here I give back the keys of my door
—and I give up all claims to my house.
I only ask for last kind words from you.

We were neighbors for long,
but I received more than I could give.
Now the day has dawned
and the lamp that lit my dark corner is out.
A summons has come and I am ready for my journey.

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