Internet under threat..

by Saurabh Gupta

I am not saying it is under any (threat) right now, but the activity which made internet huge among nineteen-ninetyners was the freedom and ease of sharing content – they might just be left gasping. The activity that had almost made the information delivery and consumption no-brainer. The activity which was born of the greatest software for freedom of speech / right to knowledge ever made – WorldWideWeb. (side note : Tim Berners-Lee’s first note about his baby – link)

So when Peter Schwartz, former CEO bridge worldwide, brought about how Associated Press (with the help of Bing) is going ahead with NOT to have there pages available for indexing to Google’s bot, I had my eyes popping out as to “can they do this?”. Of course, they can. But, why would they want to create an environment where their items is not searchable. An environment where only partners of AP gain access to the content. They are almost creating an “exclusive rights only” island within a thriving ecosystem (ruled by current king of jungle – Google). Quick search on this topic lead me to original AP argument, it’s CEO’s arguments, people who don’t like it – arguments and counter arguments.

It is not difficult to understand why AP is doing this. It isn’t difficult to comprehend the argument that “it is MY content”. However, the difficulty is the very nature of content delivery and the success of internet. Content copyright and ownership are definitely primary reasons behind thriving quality of news. Content delivery and its relevance, however, has always been discretion of consumers. If they like it they pay you, if they don’t they wouldn’t.

I believe AP or any other news agency haven’t lost any relevance. They have neither lost their original market. The market they thought they had been previously targeting still needs daily dose of discipline content and quality news. They still give a good thought when picking up their news source. They still yearn to have their daily cup of coffee. What has happened, in my opinion, is that the market has grown into this long tail of consumers which no doubt Google has been effectively been able to target. So it might be that AP and others have lost overall market share but most of it probably is made up of new entrants or passive consumers.

The world wide web is a community which only knows one language .. HTML. I would like to see world wide web just another medium since word of mouth. I am sure we are just overwhelmed with its power now. Once it settles down and once everyone is on same playing field – infrastructure, technology, parlance, speed – the information would be just about ‘me speaking to you, and degree of trust you have on me’. That is all Google doing. Marking the information on internet very relevant/less-relevant/irrelevant.

Of course, Google still needs to pay up its bills to employers and their services, and dues to its shareholders. So they will continue playing the capitalist but ‘do no evil’ game. I do not see any harm in that. Capitalist intentions last only as long as primary driver is the technology (in Google’s case) or quality journalism in case of AP