Is Google really about information?

What is Google’s mission today? This pair of articles reminds us that a corporation (or any organization) may change its purpose and business, and abandon earlier commitments.

Never trust a corporation to do a library’s job, Andy Baio, The Medium (Jan 28)

For many years Google stated its mission as “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This article identifies time and time again that Google took down tools it had developed as part of that mission statement. One of the more grievous examples has been the near total abandonment of Google News Archive. Today, Google is about future tech – smartglasses, operating systems, driverless cars, robotics.

Who can we trust for organizing information – or at least preserving it? The Internet Archive. But, the funding will be up to us, not a corporation.

Jessymn West, in The Medium, provided further evidence of Google’s changing interest in Google’s slow fade with librarians (Feb 2).

Related: Google has ‘outgrown’ its 14-year old mission statement, says Larry Page , Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian (Nov 3, 2014)

Freebase moving to Wikidata

Freebase, one of the sources for information on entities in Google’s Knowledge Graph and Bing’s Snapshot, is to be closed and its data transferred to Wikidata. Volunteers at Freebase had built up 46 million topics – and the big search engines benefited. Google acquired Freebase from Metaweb in 2010.

Google To Close Freebase, Which Helped Feed Its Knowledge Graph, Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land (Dec 16)

Knowledge Graph team posted an announcement – Freebase. Maybe they think Wikidata is a better home for Freebase. I hope Google provides support funding as well.

Firefox Search Bar

Startling news – Yahoo will be the default search engine in the Firefox browser for US users rather than Google (and one presumes the same will be true in Canada). This means getting search results from the Bing index. It is possible to adjust the search bar to default to whatever search engine you really want to use.

Yahoo to replace Google as Firefox’s default search engine in U.S., Michael Liedtke, AP via Globe and Mail (Nov 20)

The five-year alliance announced Wednesday will end a decade-old partnership in the U.S. between Google Inc. and the Mozilla Foundation, which oversees the Firefox browser. The tensions between Google and Mozilla had been rising since Google’s introduction of the Chrome browser in 2008 began to undercut Firefox.

Mozilla has this handy guide with screenshots and screencasts – Search bar – add, change and manage search engines on Firefox

Paid ads vs organic results

If you think it’s getting harder to distinguish between paid ads in search results and organic results, you’re not alone. Wall Street Journal has said that search engines are ignoring the FTC 2013 directive. I agree. My practice today is to immediately skip over the first 3 to 5 results because they are usually somewhat disguised paid ads.

WSJ: Search Engines Ignoring FTC Rules About Labeling Search Ads, Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land (Oct 13)