Duncan Riley> Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc., fame is calling for people to sign a petition that calls on Yahoo! and Google to add blog search to their sites. (here)
The crux of the proposal is simple: add a blog option to Google and Yahoo similar to the image and news options that are there now. Calacanis argues that opening blog search up to the masses would revolutionalize the web by making blog data more accessible and providing a level playing field with the mainstream media. He does indicate however that he doesn’t want blogs taken out of the main search index, or out of the news services either.
But I’ve got a problem with the proposal, and its a concern relating to the very blog apartheid that Calacanis is saying he doesn’t want: any moves to provide seperate search for blogs from within the current interfaces of Google and Yahoo! risks blogs being reduced in value from the main search engine, or partially or totally excluded all together.
Paranoid? here me out, because we already have a small scale form of corporate apartheid today thanks to Google and Yahoo! based upon their news services.
Google currently only allows sites into Google News based upon undisclosed deals that allow some sites in and not others. I once argued that it was based on layout and format of the content provided, and I was wrong. Getting into Google News has more to do today with not criticizing Google and making sure your pumping lots of revenue into the company with Adsense ads. There can be no other explanation for some of the bizarre choices of blogs that are in Google News today.
Yahoo! use to be the purest of the two in terms of blogs: in their eyes all blogs were pretty much bad and weren’t included in Yahoo! News. But money and celebrity status talk at Yahoo and the Huffington Post, an attempt by celebrities to try and gain influence in the only form of media they don’t control on the planet (the blogosphere), has been added to the Yahoo! News list.
On a side note: ask yourself this also: why does Google continue to ignore the fact that they are arguably hosting the worlds largest servers of spam, not just of blogs but websites in general, Blogger? Why won’t Google act to stamp out the continued crap that pollutes the blogosphere every day. I’ve written about this before here. The net result of a polluted blogosphere is exclusion.
Which brings me back to Calacanis’ proposal. Providing seperate blog search from the main page makes it a whole lot easier for Google and Yahoo! to take blogs out of their general search. Let’s face it, the serious advertising money comes from the main stream media. Google in particular lives and dies on this money. Blogs threaten the main stream media, who do you think Google will barrack for: humble bloggers who provide little direct worth or corporations whose spend will make or break Google as a company. Blog Apartheid is possible, because in todays world money still speaks louder than words, and no amount of noise from the blogosphere will change this….but there would be a backlash you might well say? sure, but it wouldn’t be big enough for Google or Yahoo! to change there minds: look closer to home and see what SixApart did with MT3: there was a massive backlash but they pursued (rightly or wrongly) that strategy because it was based on numbers: corporate blogs pay more than the general freebie loving unwashed of the blogosphere, and Google could potentially do the same. Even if it lost 5% of its users overnight because of such a decision (say the entire blogosphere) the current rate of growth in the internet would result in these numbers being replaced within months, if not sooner. The rage would only be amongst some parts of the blogosphere, others wont care. Over time people will forget and the rally against the blog apartheid from general search would eventually fade away to all but a few fanatics (and me).
By all means, I hope the big guys introduce blog search functionality on a separate site or service, but any moves to incorporate blog search onto the main pages of Yahoo! and Google present and clear and present danger to the future of the blogosphere as it currently stands. We must, under all circumstances, remain within general search results. To be separated would mean the beginning of the end for the blogosphere as we currently know it.