Gillian Spraggs (wolfinthewood) wrote,
Gillian Spraggs

Now you see it – now you don't.

At the point when I made my last post, at some point in the small hours of yesterday morning, my LiveJournal post with the link to the online text of my paper The Google Book Settlement and European Authors was still indexed on the main Google web search. So was the page on my personal site that contains the full text of the paper. I didn't mention this at the time, but went discreetly to bed.

In the morning, I was not greatly surprised to find that the LiveJournal post with the link to the paper had disappeared from the main search index as well as the blog search index. The paper itself was still there, though.

There was a direct link to the LiveJournal post from a page on Tweetmeme: a few people had twittered about it. I was quite interested. I am not on Twitter myself. It looks altogether too distracting. That Tweetmeme page was turning up on searches on the main Google search index. That was how I found it. But at some point today, it vanished from the index. Completely, so far as I can see.

The page on my website that has the text of my paper has also been disappeared from the index.

As I recall it, two things brought Google to its present commanding position. First, a superior search engine. And secondly, the fact that we trusted their results. Google did not go down the road that some search engines did, of mixing paid-for advertising links invisibly with the rest. And in those days their search results were always supposed to be strictly objective, generated through their famous algorithm. Absolutely no hand-fiddling.

Earlier this year anxieties were being widely expressed that Google might censor the books in the Book Service. There is a provision in the Google Book Search agreement that allows Google to exclude up to 15% of the digitised works from its database, without giving a reason. The agitation died away after Google's representatives put their hands on their hearts and said the company had no intention of practising censorship. So that was all right, then.
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