Yesterday I met Sergey Brin, Megan Smith, Chris Sacca at the Googleplex and had intense, friendly conversation on FON´s strategy to create a unified standard for people to share wifi signal around the world. After this meeting I went on to Technorati´s HQ on 3rd Street in San Francisco and spent 4 hours having an intense conversation about search with David Sifry, CEO and Tantek Celik CTO of Technorati. Now it so happens that Google and Technorati are my two favorite search engines. It was very special to be with the founder of each company on the same day and I have a few comments to make about this.
First I was shocked to find out that there´s practically no contact between Technorati and Google. I guess it´s hard for 5000 people strong Google to meet 30 people strong Technorati and clearly Google is in a complete different league altogether but with both companies being so close to each other I found it remarkable that each should follow a complete separate path to similar objectives, facilitating search.
Secondly after having studying the way Google works vs the way Technorati works my conclusion is that Google has a model that is not as scaleable as Technorati. I know this may sound shocking but here´s why. Google basically copies the internet every two weeks just to find out what changed. This process is slow and incredibly wasteful as “what changed”, may be, and I am guessing, one percent of what´s on the Net. In a way Google is based on the principle that people don´t want to be searched but Google goes ahead and searches them anyway. Technorati instead is based on the principle that anyone who publishes something wants others to know. Thus Technorati needs very few computers as it is only collecting notifications, the famous pings. In other words, while Google combs the haystack to get the needle Technorati simply uses a magnet that attracts the needle, and that magnet is people´s ego. While I use and love both Google and Technorati I see Technorati as the newspaper and Google as the book. Google has more results than Technorati. Many more results than Technorati. Google is thorough. But when I google my last name, Varsavsky, I get 250K results and I drown in thoroughness. Moreover top 20 rarely change while I can hardly make sense of the 249,980 that remain. When I Technorati Varsavsky I get 941 recent and relevant results. As opposed to Google most of these results are very new, some minutes old. What my ideal search tool look like? It would be a Technorati that is blended not with Google but with Google news. If Technorati was able to get pings from all the relevant news organizations in the world plus blogs they would be on to something very powerful and not just for ego victims as myself but for anyone who cares deeply about any specific topic. Going back to FON I would say Technorati is more fonera than Google. Technorati is built by people contributing content to facilitate the search. Moreover while I empathize with Google´s attempt to find everything that´s on the net I wonder if people who write things on the net who don´t want to be searched are aware of the fact that they will be searched. Or in other words I wonder how many criminals can get social security numbers for example just by googling names and social security number in the same string. At FON we wanted to sniff all the wifi networks in a city and publish those open for foneros to enjoy but then somebody pointed out that a large part of those who leave their wifi networks open do so because they don´t know how to put a password to their routers and that we should only publish the points that we KNOW that people want to share. Should this principle be applied to search?
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