Jimmy Wales: Google is secret, proprietary, closed. Search should be open.
Lindsay Campbell: What’s wrong with Google, and how will Wikia’s search be different?
Jimmy Wales: I think the main thing that is wrong with Google is that everything is secret, proprietary, closed… I’m a big believer in openness and transparency, ah, open source software, open protocols, and I think search should be open as well.
Campbell: How would that work? Functionally…?
Wales: Well, we haven’t invented it yet.
I’ve been thinking about Google’s opacity a good deal recently, and have a medium-sized post on this topic coming out Tuesday on Search Engine Land.
In Tuesday’s post, I suggest Google is remarkably opaque towards their advertisers. Google obfuscates click cost info (providing costs only in aggregate, rather than click-level reporting), obfuscates ad ranking (quality score), and obfuscates ad matching (broad match), etc. I also suggest that if Google embraced extreme transparency — if they could overcome the substantial associated business risk — Google would enjoy (even more) explosive growth and (even more) market dominance. While I’m bearish on Wikia, I think Wales is totally right on the money with his comments on Google’s secrecy.
Prediction: Google’s lack of transparency becomes a significant issue in late ’07 / early ’08.