I was really surprised to see an entry in my icerocket.com feed from Seth Godin saying that ”
I was particularly surprised because I am in the middle of reading his new book LinchPin which actually makes my point about why its a poor business move for newspapers and many others to be indexed by Google.
I love Seth, but in this article he is simultaneously wrong and hypocritical. In the article, he makes my point very well when he says
” The person who chooses that information has power.”
What does he think newspapers do ? Randomly publish stories ? Randomly assign stories to writers and editors ? Of course not. The value in their brand comes from choosing stories, some of which come from 3rd parties and some of which they originate. By allowing themselves to be part of the Google Index or Google News, they become one of thousands of content options. They transition the power of information selection from their newspaper brand to the aggregator brand. Thats just stupid.
As far as his Oprah example in the article (saying its like turning down a chance to be on Oprah when you remove yourself from an index), its ridiculous. If Google called a newspaper publisher and said they would highlight and promote their paper on Google’s homepage, then it would be analogous . When Oprah has you on the show, you are highlighted to her audience, not one of thousands of books on a list. Which is what happens when you are indexed by Google. You are one of thousands or more in a list with no declaration from google how you will be presented. Completely different than discussing with Oprah the time, day and show you will be on, and how the book would be presented and discussed.
Seth should re read his book Lynchpin and recognize that in this post industrial information age, if you are just one more entry in an algorithmically defined index, the index algorithm makes even the most amazing employee the digital equivalent of a 1909 Ford production worker. Ford didnt care if you were the most productive in the plant. Google doesnt care if you are the most valued brand in the index. They will assign their own value to you. You are just one more entry into an equation. An equation that you dont have access to . Thats about as close to Henry Ford’s 1909 plant as you can get.
To be amazing as an information originator, you must stand out and become indispensable. You must show that you dont belong in a list of books on Google, but rather highlighted and featured on the Oprah show. If you cultivate and collect information, you must be your own aggregator, which a newspaper is, and through the value of your content, show your potential audience that you are amazing as an aggregator, cultivator and originator and define to your audience why you are worth having to type a URL for rather than just being found in a search results page on Google
No question that search simplifies, but it also stupifies. Type in a word, find whatever Google finds for you. Trust in Google. That worked well for a while Seth. But those were the good ole days.
In a world of social networks, if you are amazing and you stand out, people around you will tell others, who tell more people and your amazing product becomes viral. Being indispensable to your community is incredibly valuable. You dont need to depend on people to search Google to find you. Your friends will help their friends find you through status updates, emails and notes. This social graph value far exceeds the brick in the wall value of being in a search index, without making your brand secondary to the vampires who cycle you through their algorithms.
Read your book Seth :). Being algorithmic output is not being indispensable nor does it reflect amazing.