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Jimmy Wales: Google is secret, proprietary, closed. Search should be open.

In Friday’s WallStrip, there’s an intersting interview with Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales. For me, the key bit comes about 80% of the way in (4:11), where Jimmy comments on Google. Emphasis mine:

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.

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  • Alan Rimm-Kaufman
    Alan Rimm-Kaufman founded the Rimm-Kaufman Group...
  • Comments
    One Response to “Jimmy Wales: Google is secret, proprietary, closed. Search should be open.”
    1. Hashim says:

      “Google would enjoy (even more) explosive growth and (even more) market dominance.”

      Please explain.

      I think more openness would make it easier for people to game Google, and easier for competitors to clone them