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Google and Walled Gardens

Posted by: Rob Hof on August 9, 2007

There’s a big kerfuffle on TechMeme, appropriately enough, about Google’s new plan to allow some comments on news stories in Google News. In particular, at least at first, it’s allowing only people involved with story, whether those mentioned or the writers of the stories, to comment.

A lot of folks wonder how Google can do this kind of human vetting without incurring a huge manual labor cost, not to mention why they’re limiting comments only to a few people. But the bigger issue at large is whether Google, which depends completely on its ability to crawl Web sites and present their information (along with ads), should be walling off its own new content from others, as it is doing with these comments. It’s hard to find a great reason for this, and Google hasn’t offered one yet, even in an interview with search maven Danny Sullivan.

Is this just a way for Google to usurp traditional news organizations, many of which have begun allowing comments themselves? To some, such as Robert Scoble, it looks like a money grab.

To be honest, my head spins when I try to figure out who should be attributing or paying money to whom for their content, meta-content, and meta-meta-content. But it’s more than passingly strange that Google, which exists solely on everyone else’s content, is walling off one of its first attempts to create its own.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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