When we originally published our research on the Hostile Information Ecosystem, I freely admit that some of it seemed fairly outlandish. Among the things that seemed weirdest was the idea that people would be untrustworthy in What They Searched For — in other words, that you would have naughty people who did searches they did not really mean, or meant maliciously, in order to create a sort of positive impact (or negative) for the object on which they had searched.
Know what? Here’s a great example of this “denial of insight” that we talked about. This rock band, whose informal performance video is provided on the link, somehow appeared as a major search target on Google, which became a self-fulfilling prophecy as more people went to see who they were because other people had been to see who they were. (Thanks, as is so often the case, to Daniel Tunkelang at The Noisy Channel.) The example, I think, illustrates my point better than I am doing here in my own text. The idea is that, essentially, we can’t trust anybody in the searching world — we don’t know that the content is legit; we don’t know that the searchers are legit (per the above); and the mechanisms for calculating relevancy are vulnerable as well.
Google’s vulnerable, sure — but they care deeply about combating that vulnerability, and they invest accordingly, with varying results. How about you, though? You have a search engine, and if you have a “hot results,” or “interesting searches” page, you might not have adequate defenses. If you sell stuff online that’s not what you manufacture, maybe your suppliers will want their stuff to outsell others — and so if searcher interest is a factor, it’s vulnerable too.
The Hostile Information Ecosystem has proven real. We wrote about it for the first time in March 2006. Not that I’m preening.
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