[iDC] Alternatives to black-box page-rank algorithm (was conference summary part 2: the internet as playground and factory)

Zbigniew Lukasiak zzbbyy at gmail.com
Thu Nov 19 08:08:03 UTC 2009

Hi there,

I have not been at the conference and I don't know if this point was
raised, if it was then - please forgive me.

On Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 6:28 AM, nathan jurgenson
<nathanjurgenson at gmail.com> wrote:
> Frank Pasquale forcefully called on Google to be more transparent. Given
> what was discussed above, as well as Google’s central status in our
> day-to-day knowledge-seeking life, Pasquale leaves us with questions to
> ponder: should its page-rank algorithm be public? Should Google be allowed
> to up-rank or down-rank links based their relationship to the company?
> Should Google be able to simply remove pages from its listings? Should
> Google be forced to let us know when they do these things? ~nathan

I am also more and more afraid of the kafquesque world of Google
government of our information sources - but they do have a valid point
for the secrecy of page-rank: this is about defending against those
that try to game the system.  If the page-rank algorithm was public it
would be analysed and effective ways to game it would be found and we
would drown under the deluge of spam.  Now there are still people and
companies that try to analyse the black-box - but at least their
actions cannot be very effective.

If we are to be constructive in our criticism Google for the black-box
algorithm we should also propose some alternative.   Most probably
there is no alternative that Google could unilaterally deploy - most
probably this would require a complex web of law, social norms and
technical changes.  This would be an interesting project.

Zbigniew Lukasiak

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