Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Does Your Mom Edit Your Blog? Google Wants to Know.

momDo a Google news search, for say, “Will Ferrell,” and you’ll see that the search giant has started labeling news items from blogs as…news items from blogs. Why?

Turns out Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt isn’t quite sure himself.

But posed with that question during a Boston news conference yesterday, Schmidt did use the opportunity to expound on the difference between pro bloggers and amateur ones. Or at least, his vision of the difference.

From Nieman Journalism Lab blogger Zachary Seward’s transcript of his exchange with Schmidt:

Me: A very small question. Google News very recently added a label for blogs, to differentiate from non-blogs. It seemed weird in 2009 to make that distinction. I wondered, did you have any input on that or –?

Eric Schmidt: I was not directly involved in that. There seems to be a difference between blogs and traditional news. It’s sometimes hard to distinguish because many people in the traditional news are also bloggers.

Me: Or they use a blog platform.

Schmidt: Or they use a blog platform. So we’re trying to find that line. And it’s hard to articulate what that difference is.

Me: How would describe that line if it’s not based on the tech behind the publishing platform?

Schmidt: No, it’s not the technology. My guess is–again, I’m speculating, which is always a mistake–it has a lot to do with the infrastructure around the writer. So a blog that’s associated with a major, legitimate organization–of which, I think, the majority, if not everyone, in the room is associated with–would be, I think, treated differently than an individual blogger who’s using his or her right of free expression to say whatever he thinks. So the presence of an editor, as an example. You know, an editor that’s not your mom.

As Seward points out, Schmidt is wrong about the way Google News categorizes. As best I can tell, Google basically lumps all blogs, including this one, which I like to think of as reasonably professional, in its “blog” category. And no, despite her occasional appearances on this site, Kara Swisher’s mother is not an editor here.

Anyway, the real question for me isn’t “how does Google refer to my work in its search results?” but “how does Google determine where to put my my work in its search results?” Schmidt and company can call it whatever they want–just send those eyeballs my way.

[image credit: kevindooley]


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work