In an interesting interview of some high-up Google-guys in wired.com, I came across a quote that is significant to how knowledge is so subjective, especially even in a Google search engine.  In response to how Google is filtering out spam results, or even low-quality content from its search results, Cutts went on to say:

Cutts: In some sense when people come to Google, that’s exactly what they’re asking for — our editorial judgment. They’re expressed via algorithms. When someone comes to Google, the only way to be neutral is either to randomize the links or to do it alphabetically. If we don’t have the ability to change how we rank things to try to improve the search engine, that goes right to the crux of everything.

While most of us would agree that search results need to be filtered, we are often not aware that when we “google” something, we are actually seeing a list that is editorialised by Google. Any search result is therefore not neutral but determined, by a complex algorithm along with user involvement.

Of course other search engines do the same thing. And one of the reasons Google is so successful is because they seem to aim at neutrality as well as quality (a fine line between subjectivity and objectivity). Plus, they still provide the most useful and best search results (compared to what I’ve found in other sites).

So, this is not a critique of Google, just an interest heads up for me… a reminder that there is more subjectivity around us than we think.

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