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Even for search engine (SEO) copywriters like myself, this is a task which is becoming more and more time consuming, simply because more and more content is being added to Internet. To illustrate: In 1997, there were an estimated 200 million pages on World Wide Web (K. Bharat and A. Broder, A technique for measuring relative size and overlap of public web search engines [WWW1998]). By 1998, that number had jumped to 800 million pages (S. Lawrence and C.L. Giles, Accessibility of information on web [Nature 400:107-109, 1999]). A mere 7 years later, estimate is now 11.5 billion pages (A. Gulli and A. Signorini, The Indexable Web is more than 11.5 billion pages ).
In other words, nowadays your Internet opinion is only heard above virtual din if you can really REALLY churn out content. And that takes a great investment in time and money.
Information overload most effective form of censorship
Now dont get me wrong; Im not saying Internet denies us access to information. It certainly doesnt do that. But ironically, its Internets very openness that provides its greatest censorship power. With 11.5 billion pages currently online, and nearly 10 million more added each day, were all starting to wonder how much of that information can be trusted. We look for helpful content, and we keep going back for it, but only if we trust source. And, as a rule of thumb, we only trust websites which:
- rank highly in major search engines;
- have a high Google PageRank (PR) - PR is how Google scores importance. It gives all sites a mark out of 10. Any site with a PR of 4 or above is generally considered fairly credible. More and more web-savvy people are using PR to assess site credibility and authority. (You can see PR of every site you visit by downloading Google Toolbar (http://toolbar.google.com).); and/or
- are referred to us by a friend, colleague, or industry thought leader (which usually only happens if at least one of first two conditions applies).
The result... We only trust very people who were feeding us misinformation and disinformation for years before emergence of Internet.
And where does this leave average Jo on street? Even if she has education, time, and money to publish a website, an increasing state of e-information overload will likely result in marginalization of her website anyway. At best, shell be seen as an uninformed minority; at worst, a muck-raking conspiracy theorist!
Conclusion dare we hope?
Several generations have wondered what they could achieve if they could only get on TV. Television being what it is, that wish never came to fruition unless you were happy to appear on Jerry Springer Show, Cops, or Judge Judy, or you have what it takes to star in American Idol, Big Brother, Amazing Race, or Survivor. Then along came Internet. It claims to offer everything TV cannot. Unfortunately, as it stands, Internet is no more true to its promise than TV. The vast majority of high ranking, highly trafficked websites are published by powerful, affluent corporations. There are a few anomalies, but theyre no more than that. Like everyday people on reality TV, small-time stars of Internet are exceptions to rule.
But I havent given up hope. All previous comments notwithstanding, Im inclined to see cup as half full. After all, every now and then, when masters back is turned, someone manages to slip beast a treat to get it to perform a trick or two (such as a folksonomy). I like to think that my early days of optimism were something more than idealism bolstered by naivety. I still believe technology of Internet offers great promise. I just hope that the powers that be dont have too great a head start, and that all of us small people wont be pushed to margins where well have to content ourselves with a lifetime of chanting Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!
Maybe folksonomies are answer or prelude to answer or a part of prelude. Or maybe Internet will turn out to be historys greatest hoax after all. I dont know. What I do know is that Im looking forward to watching it unfold. For better or for worse, it will certainly be interesting...
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* Glenn Murray is an SEO copywriter and heads copywriting studio Divine Write. He can be contacted on Sydney +612 4334 6222 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit http://www.divinewrite.com for further details or more FREE articles.