“When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 02000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 02000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.”
A discussion of three related topics. The first is the concept of Google as content provider, the second is the Gillmor focus on an “attention economy“ and the third is collective action. The battle matters for the PR practitioner and social scientist alike because it provides the filters to discern the winners.
Google as Content Provider
Google originally created a valuable brand through buzz from alpha geeks using a minimalist interface that worked. It worked, it helped us find stuff, because it leveraged something under the radar which was, at the time, hard to game or trick. That thing was described as page rank which to oversimplify means links to your web site (content) are votes for your site and therefore the site is probably more relevant. So links about a topic mean this content is good and you probably want it so we (google) will direct you (you) to it. They provided a service to help us make the best use of our time seeking stuff.
We cared about google because we lack long attention spans and don’t want to waste time going through 5 pages of search results to get to the answer. We are smart and impatient and want what we want and we want it now.
[Sidebar: that elephant is Lord Ganesh the Remover of Obstacles which just seemed appropriate for this post]