Google’s new advertising program seems to be causing some consternation among some of the top webloggers. Google is placing text-ads on sites like blogspot.com and HowStuffWorks.com. I think this is the perfect opportunity for the project Grub.
People are understandably worried that Google is beginning to become more than just a search engine and that this lack of focus will mean the end of Google’s usefulness. If Google goes the way of AltaVista, then it’ll be just another portal or, worse, just another DoubleClick.
What is the real concern, though? People want relevent, useful search without distractions. I’ve personally used Google’s AdWords program and been very satisfied with its ease and speed. I’ve also clicked on several AdWords and, once or twice, even bought something advertised. So, I don’t think the advertisments are bad. In their current form, they are well-executed — they convey information and they are unobtrusive.
Still, if Google does go too far, I wouldn’t look for a single company to take its place. The growth of Peer-to-Peer technology and the willingness of people to participate in what they consider worthwhile, or even fun, collaborative projects mean that a project like Grub could really take off. Since it is Free Software, I would expect a number of companies to collaborate on offering search results based on the collaboratively-spidered content. Would you be willing to run a spider if it meant that you got better search results?
Right now, the problem with Grub is that there is no interface (that I can find) to search the current dataset. They need to do more work to address privacy concerns (if I run the spider, can you guarentee that my private email isn’t going to show up in the results?) while at the same time providing for private uses (like indexing my email).