Voter Fatigue Skews Search Engine Results for the Aristrocracy

Voter fatigue, in political science parlance, refers to people literally getting tired of voting. Of if they vote, perhaps they vote the major ticket but block vote the rest because who the heck knows there the 2nd District Court is anyway, right?

David Berkowitz in today’s SearchInsider argues this phenomenon is coming to search. From the MediaInsider article "The Aristrocracy of Relevance" (reg required unfortunately)

the search engines and their hundreds of
millions of users will soon find themselves subjugating to a new ruling
class: the Aristocracy of Relevance. The whole search engine marketing
business was much easier when the search engines were the arbiters of
relevance.

and it continues

Now, we have tagging. With the engines’ new services, anyone can label
a search result as he or she sees fit, and the search engine recognizes
the categorization (within reason). The old model might be viewed as a
benevolent dictatorship or even as enlightened absolutism; the new
model is a democracy–power to the people. Yet most people won’t take
advantage of this power.

He goes on:

Considering that My Web and Co-Op will remain the playground of early
adopters for the foreseeable future, and only users who opt in to those
services will find their listings affected by other users, then only
the early adopters will notice the impact. Or, to put it into the
context at hand, an aristocracy is being created, but the aristocrats
are talking to themselves. They have their social club, and no one else
will notice. Only when the aristocrats’ recommendations take prominence
over the search engines’ own algorithmic rankings for all users, logged
in or not, will the Aristocracy of Relevance gain power.


Even if the Aristocracy gains power, it may wind up benefiting everyone.

Who? Like the French? Like the Dean Campaign?

OK, that seems harsh. And I really don’t know how it will play out. I do know when the Internet was young I would tell people about this cool thing called Prodigy and then Compuserve. And they would say "oh" but do nothing." Then I rambled on about email and they would say "oh" and most did nothing, only to sign up six months later and say "why didn’t you tell me about this??? And can you come configure my new modem?" 

Now I ask if people are using Bloglines and RSS and I get blank stares or the particularly aggravating "I don’t have time." (huh? isn’t that the #$*(&# point? you don’t have TIME NOT TO!)

Maybe this is the flip side. Alpha geeks get to dictate to the majority?

Yet it still seems dangerous. I’m not on board yet and I think it is very important to get social software down to regular users to balance the Dean affect. I think distributed authoring is important.