Re: [ACAT] Advertising (was AltaVista’s demise)

Posting to Autocat

On 08/07/2013 20:04, Brian Briscoe wrote:

We should also recognize that research tools have never been totally free of subjectivity. For as long as there has been a cost associated with the publishing of information (forever), published information has shown the bias of the publisher and/or author. That is why every information source needs to be evaluated for its bias. Ideal as it may seem, there is no way to escape bias.

In many ways, Google should be considered an advertising agency instead of some kind of search engine. According to this article “96 percent of Google’s revenue is advertising, who buys it?”, it turns out that the most expensive “adwords” you could place with Google were “self-employed health insurance,” which “charged advertisers around $43 for every time someone clicked their advertisement.” Google wants and needs you to click on that.

But with Google’s “Adsense”, it is more subtle than the links we see in Google since others can gain monetarily. Here is a video that describes it pretty well: Of course, this is only the beginning and the social aspects of search (i.e. where the information they have on you) will be used more and more so that specific ads are brought to those people who are profiled to want them. Some find this a great development and others do not. In the future, all of this will become ever more subtle.

What does all of this have to do with cataloging? A lot I think. For those with a certain mind-set, the idea of “resource discovery” could easily be synonymous with “advertising.” Personally, while advertisements in a newspaper do not bother me and I find them useful, I haven’t yet seen advertisements on the web that I have wanted to click on. Perhaps it’s just me–I don’t know.

This is precisely the advantage of catalogs, I think: if the selectors have done their jobs correctly, and the catalogers have too, there is a level of “objectivity” in that these are items that have been vetted by experts and are presented to the searcher without any hope for personal gain. There is no way that Google-type results can be seen in the same light. The traditional library goal seems the closest we can come to objectivity.

These are some of the reasons why I think that catalogs and cataloging could become vitally important to future society. They have the potential to provide the public with something they will find nowhere else. People want it–they are screaming for it. And librarians know how to do it. It just needs to be re-invented for the modern world.