google bombing

Speaking of Google, I have very mixed feelings about the librarian Googlebomb meme that is going around now. On the one hand, it’s fun and LoC and LII deserve positive attention. On the other hand, another recent Googlebomb — the one for the word “jew” — was done with significantly less good intention. One of the new paradigms we need to deal with in the Internet age, is the authority question. It used to be easy to trust the authority of print materials because they remained static. Once the encyclopedia is printed, unless someone rips the pages out, the information is inviolate. You may or may not agree with it, but you know that everyone reads the same words. Citing a web site for your information involves a “date accessed” indicator and, if you’re really being careful, a cached copy of the page. Information changes. While this fluidity is more indicative perhaps of the “real world” of information, I feel that my job as a librarian is to use the tools effectively and be aware of their accuracy. While I find the planned outcomes of the librarian Googlebomb amusing and generally positive, I ultimately feel that it’s a cheat — a way to use tech-savviness to affect sources that others feel are more objective. If the Googlebomb precedent hadn’t been set already, I feel that librarians would not feel that this was an appropriate way to manipulate an index. Ultimately, this is Google’s responsibility to deal with, but shouldn’t we be helping?

update: Steven appears to have called it off.