For anyone keeping up with tech/industry news, this week has been a non-stop bout of fascinating, possibly ground-breaking news. What does it have to do with search? Well, potentially quite a lot.
First on the chopping block was talk of a potential takeover of Dow Jones (publisher of the Wall Street Journal) by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. About as soon as this landslide of a story hit, rumors buzzed that Google was also considering a takeover. Regardless of what actually happens here, the idea that a sale of this magnitude is even being considered points to the radical changes in power of print and online media.
Speaking of Google, competitors Microsoft and Yahoo are trying as ever to find ways to dethrone the ubiquitous search engine. While $50 billion is no slim price tag, the takeover of Yahoo by Microsoft would certainly escalate the search engine wars to a level we’ve yet to experience. With Google recently declared #1 web property, Microsoft is obviously going to do whatever it takes to secure their presence again.
Finally, democratic news-site Digg got to experience how determined people are to make information freely accessible on the Internet. The short news byte — Digg pulled stories publishing a hack to HD-DVD encryption after receiving a cease-and-desist letter by copyright holders, and the users were offended enough to go to great extremes to publicize the hack regardless. In fact, the sudden case of censorship resorted in the sensitive information suddenly becoming one of the most popular stories on the Internet. Digg, at length, rescinded their position and now vows to stand by even if the case goes to court.
What this all points to (connecting a variety of dots here) is the increasing importance of the Internet and the phenomenal shift in power from printed, editor-reviewed content to rapidly propagatable, user-controlled media that with very little monitoring can influence hundreds of thousands. And what a terrifying and incredible ride it is.