Subject: Re: OpenPageRank?!?
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 24 Mar 2006 07:19:02 -0800

Thomas Lord <lord@emf.net> writes:

> Don't laugh.  It'll happen.  It could happen w/in 2-3 years
> if you really want it to.   And not "OpenPageRank" but
> "OpenPageRank_s_", plural. 
> 
> Here's one way:  talk to Sun and whomever is competing against
> Sun on grid computing.  
> 
> Googlish functionality can be an open-source "screen-saver" 
> on that infrastructure.   Crawlers and DBs of pages can be
> shared -- boosted into on-demand service through a googlish
> advertising hack.   Google is vastly more vulnerable than
> the market currently recognizes.  

As a Google employee, maybe I shouldn't comment, but on the other hand
I don't work on search, and I don't actually know that much about it.

I'm sure that Google is vulnerable to many things, but I think an
alternative free software search implementation would be pretty far
down on the list.  Google isn't selling a fancy software algorithm;
they are selling a service.

It's easy to imagine a free software search algorithm that is better
than Google's; I don't know what it would look like, but it's easy to
imagine it.  Then what happens?  Some people start to use it, Google
notices it, and either 1) if the license permits, Google simply
incorporates it, or 2) Google reimplements the ideas.  Then Google's
service is just as good as the free software competitor, and Google
has much more brand recognition.

It seems to me that to beat Google on search for real users you have
to be consistently better for long enough that the brand recognition
starts to erode.  That could certainly happen, but it's particularly
hard to do with free software because it's very easy for Google to
simply incorporate the ideas.

Obviously, I don't speak for the company, I don't know anything about
Google's actual search algorithms, I don't even know anybody who works
on them, etc., etc.

Ian