Dear Bill Gates, You Clever Fox By David Leonhardt
Dear Bill Gates.
You did it. You casually left a live grenade at Grand Charity Gala and walked out of room to see if anybody, especially Google, will notice.
Once again, you have created an innovation in marketing that is poised to take world by storm. What I love about it is how you have just tossed it out into public for all to see, and yet nobody seems to be noticing it.
Flitting from forum to forum, everyone is talking about your new MSN beta search engine ( http://beta.search.msn.com/ ), but nobody seems to have discovered secret marketing bomb you left ticking there.
Google sure was clever with its PageRank gimmick. In fairness, PageRank is not just a gimmick, but it was marketed as much more than it is -- big ka-boom that sets Google apart, despite being only a small part of its algorithm.
But your ka-boom will be bigger. You have actually given searchers like me control over my own rankings. While other search engines are talking about "personalized search", you've given us levers to incrementally change rankings in searches themselves.
You are probably aware that webmasters are kicking tires on your new search engine to see how high they rank. Those who are more adventuresome or who earn their living understanding (or trying to understand) search engines are taking some of your special features for a spin. Most of those features are fairly mundane. Like "links to" (although it might just be most comprehensive listing on Internet – hint to webmasters) and "language".
But what's this at very bottom, almost falling off my screen?
Hey, this is cool. I can control results myself. I can give more weight to recently-updated sites, which is great when I am following a breaking story (After America's Cup, I do not want to find all pre-race predictions, for example.). Or I can weight results in favor of static pages if I am trying to find again health information I had read last time my daughter broke out in blue and green splotches all over her body.