A Quantum Theory of Internet Value

The fact that Google now “sucks” is in a large part not Google’s fault: Google simply reflects what it can see, and most of the Web is simply invisible to Google, as it now lies behind closed doors. Google’s aggressive, but essentially dumb robots can only get so far. We’re painfully aware that Google’s lack of specificity leaves its robots chomping through thin air, dead pages, or trackbacks, more often than not. —Andrew Orlowski
A Quantum Theory of Internet Value (The Register)

Orlowski ruminates on the impact of Google Print, a new feature from Google (see BBC’s coverage) that searches the contents of selected print books, along with the Internet.

It’s a sure bet that the scholarly books that don’t have huge print runs or huge advertising budgets won’t be the ones paying Google to “feature” their results, which means that Google will be even less valuable than it already is to students seeking credible scholarly information.

I get to add another detail to my list of “why you shouldn’t rely on Google” freshman comp speech (which I have to repeat in every class, at every level. Many students, rewarded by their high school teachers for their ability to summarize plot or express their own personal opinion of a text, seem to write up their whole paper first, and only then look for sources.

I ask students to submit notes telling me what they would have done more of if they had the chance, and the activity of scholarly research is often described as “finding quotes that support my argument,” rather than constructing an argument based on the reading you have already done.

A student who has already polished the sentences and paragraphs, and has a few hours before being overtaken by sleep (or, in some cases, the actual deadlie) tends not to be very descriminatory when Google returns a list of hits that “look good”.

Note: I’d already blogged this article when Jim e-mailed to me a suggestion. Keep ’em coming, Jim.