Thursday, December 11

Good News for All Senate Appropriations Committee Junkies

So here is a novel idea -- can the the government supplement our billion dollar bailout with Google AdSense profit sharing? The Washington Post ran an article about Google publicly encouraging the government to make their sites more searchable:
A person using one of the search engines, for example, can't find Environmental Protection Agency enforcement actions against a given company, can't discover the picture of a specific ancient Egyptian artifact at the Smithsonian, and can't search by name for the details of a Vietnam War casualty.

Which, if you have ever tried to find information via a government website, isn't a shocker. They tend to be bloated, poorly designed, and difficult to navigate. Like most of the Internet. Only difference is that most of the Internet is indexable by search engines, so we aren't often exposed to their mess. We just Google a topic instead and head directly to the content.

Think about all the paid search links that Google can attach to these results. I expect government-related keywords would fetch a nice bid price. Especially the more niche topics. If the government were smart (stress on were), then they would negotiate a revenue share model.

Then my Google Paranoia sets in. They want to be the leader in finding all information. What happens when they are better at finding government data than our own government? How codependent will the government become on them? Are we one step closer to a "private Google" commissioned to keep track of confidential information behind the government firewall.

On its own this isn't a scary thing. But start cross-indexing their knowledge of government data with Google's other information repositories such as Google Earth/Streetview, Picasa face photo recognition, tracking individual web users via its ad networks, mobile GPS enabled Maps, OpenID...

Then again, maybe this is just crazy talk.

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