I've long been a fan of Danny Sullivan, who edits Search Engine Land, and probably knows more about search engines than anyone outside the companies that actually run them. But my respect for his wit, eloquence and perspective has reached new heights with his latest piece: The New York Times Algorithm & Why It Needs Government Regulation, a lampoon of the NYT's foolish call for search neutrality in an editorial yesterday, turning the Times' arguments right back at them, and pointing out the hypocrisy by which the established press often tries to deny First Amendment protection to newcomers to the speech business. Danny's post is truly a masterpiece of satire, worthy of Jonathan Swift. But one section deserves special attention:
I've been covering the search space closely for nearly 15 years, from before Google itself even existed, so I have seen these types of claims far longer and examined them in far more depth than what went into that New York Times editorial.
My guess is that the editorial staff (the staff that writes the newspaper's editorials, which are opinion pieces, which is confusing when the newspaper also has an editorial staff that writes "editorial" stories elsewhere that are supposed to be unbiased) spent about an hour or so discussing recent Google news, then someone was probably assigned to write the editorial and invested all of about three hours on it.
That's not much time or care for a major and well-respected newspaper (in many quarters) to decide the government should evaluate "fairness" when it comes to making editorial judgments in search results, be they from Google or any other search engine.
I'm afraid Danny's right. What a shameful day for the "Grey Lady." Anyway, here are a few of the pieces Adam and I have written about the dangers inherent in the seductive idea of search neutrality: