Over at IT garage Doc talks about the splog problem within the larger problem of homogeny and monoculturalism in tech.
And he's not even talking about penises! (well, not directly).
I think that what Doc is saying is so important that here goes the whole thing--call me a spammer, flag my ass and zip me in a leather cell, I don't give a crap:
I became convinced today that our biggest problems are monocultures. What's bad for lawns and farms is also bad for classrooms, churches, industries, governments, political parties, banks, credit card companies and every other organization that lives by controlling and isolating its members. In other words, silos.
Today there's been some interesting back and forth between Steve Gillmor (to whose gang I belong) and myself on the subject of what Steve calls the "page view model" vs. the "attention model". I've been representing the former and Steve the latter.
Background is provided by Dave Winer, who writes, Links are now devalued. Page-rank is under attack and the attackers are winning. It won't be long before Google itself is infested. Tim Bray is right, below, it's time for Google to get on top of this. They're both the victimizer and the victim. The spammers found a huge hole in Page-rank. You could drive a truck through it. I was the early warning system on this, the canary in the coal mine. They don't like to listen to me, maybe they'll accept Verisign's help. (Context: Dave just sold Weblogs.com, the ping site on which all RSS search engines rely, to Verisign.)
I believe links are devalued because Google has become a monoculture, both as a search engine and as an advertising system. Blog spammers, or sploggers, are taking advantage of that monoculture in the same way boll weevils take advantage of a cotton field.
I know a fair amount of what the RSS engines are doing about blog spam, or splogs. And I salute Mark Cuban for being the first search engine honcho (he's an investor in IceRocket) to call major attention to the problem, and for coining the term "splog".
But I don't see much sign that Google is doing more than putting a little notification flag on blogspot blogs, to allow readers to notify google that the blog in question is possibly a fake one. No doubt they are dealing with the problem, though. So is Yahoo, from what I'm told (and see in results). But we need to hear more (perhaps from Google's AdSense blog?).
But is any of it enough? I don't think so. The bigger question is, Can anything be enough to thwart a blight in a monocultural environment?
The real answer to the link devaluation problem has to come from outside Google. We need polyculture: for search, for advertising, for everything. In its absence, we get some fine but isolating services. And blights that take advantage of that isolation.
Forget for a moment -- if you can; I know it's hard to forget since we're in a discussion about silos among a group made up of white men in their 40s and 50s even though some women, i don't know, ME FOR EXAMPLE, also wrote about the topic -- that the conversation itself is homogenous. Doc knows that's a problem. It's a conversational problem (aka: richness and meaning), and a problem with the VOLUME of conversation and the WATTAGE of conversation that reinforces the status quo voice.
But that's not exactly what Doc is talking about.
What Doc's really talking about here is that as the value of each and every link falls with a proportionate rise in noise, then the very business model of search-and-find (as we know it) and advertising (as we know it) and rank (as we know it) have to change. That means the strategy, the model, the tools, the money, the everything.
I agree with Doc 100%.
And I'll get even more prophetic: Link-based search was neat. It's a good thing they gave it to us when they did. It made the web 1.0 fly. So did RSS. It's not going anywhere, but someone's going to find a way that is even more intuitive, that skates across spam but doesn't further silo the conversation by paving over neighborhoods that don't SEEM to matter.
I don't want to be fed. I want to feast.
SO, what's next. And quit looking to Google for the answer to why all of your also-ran stuff isn't working right now, fellas. Stop striking a pose long enough to innovate. I mean, it's gada.be you guys. Right?