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Google musings - Journal of Omnifarious

Mar. 10th, 2004

04:05 pm - Google musings

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My friend, svairini pushed me into an interesting line of thought today. We were exchanging thoughts on people who inadvertently publish stuff on google that they probably don't want to, like budgetting spreadsheets, password files, and the like. They have a webserver, and these files inadvertently end up being part of what the webserver serves up, and google being as incredibly thorough as it is, snaps them all up, parses them and makes it possible to easily search for them.

It's been observed before that google works by harnessing the collective opinion of the Internet about a page in deciding how important the page is for a given search term. It uses links to your page, and the terms that occur in and around those links to decide what your page is about and how important it is.

This means that google sort of indirectly rewards you for publishing stuff by letting you figure out what people think of it without having to go hunt around and collect the information yourself.

For example, we have an extensive intranet where I work, with a lot of information on it. We also have an internal google box that indexes it all. But, that index isn't anywhere near as useful as the google global index as it only takes into account the opinions of other people in my company of the page. That's a very small sample set, and the internal google search is very rarely as blatantly authoritative as the global one is.

Anyway, that was just a thought. It's sort of an example of how Open Source concepts of openness are actually applicable outside the domain. How the "with many eyes, all bugs are shallow" concept applies to things other than software.

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