Bashing Bing, whacking Wave
Why I'm leery of Microsoft's new search engine and Google's new e-mail system
Computerworld - Industry titans Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. are getting rave reviews this week about innovative new approaches to Internet search and communications, respectively.
Even Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak told a reporter that Microsoft's new Bing search engine looks "astounding" and that he's "a big fan, now."
There's much to like. In a nutshell, Bing does more to surface information you're probably looking for than Google does. For example, if you search for a company, one of the top results will present links to customer service, store locator -- that kind of information.
If you haven't seen it, go here to see the Microsoft pitch for Bing.
Looks great, right? What's not to like. Well...
If you'll notice, the URL for the video link above is: DecisionEngine.com. And that's exactly what Bing does better than Google. It makes decisions for you. Of more concern is that it makes decisions for all users. So what's wrong with that?
Well, nothing for you and me. For individual people, Bing is a nice alternative to Google and the other search engines. It can save you time and hassle for some kinds of searches -- no question about it.
The problem is how Bing might affect culture, especially if Google copies some of its features to neutralize Microsoft as a competitor. In other words, if search engines that made decisions for you is a trend, it's probably a bad trend, not a good one.
Decisions are -- and must be -- based on value judgments. To use Bing is to see the Internet through Microsoft's corporate values. For example:
- Bing brings "the best match to the top," not the most popular. In other words, Microsoft is overriding the democratic approach for an elitist, we-know-best approach.
- The demo video shows a search for "home depot," which offers alternatives to the left of the results, including "Ace Hardware" and "Walmart." That the alternative to a mega-chain is another mega-chain is a value judgment. Why isn't the mom-and-pop hardware store in my neighborhood the best alternative to Home Depot? To some it is. To Microsoft, it isn't. Could Bing, if popular, accelerate the demise of locally owned businesses in favor of giant corporations?
- "Bing's health results bring together resources from the top medical sources in the world, including the Mayo Clinic," Microsoft says in the demo. Microsoft's value judgments about whom to trust for medical information win the day, namely conventional Western medical authorities. Alternative therapies, which may favor diet and exercise for obesity or cardiovascular disease over drugs and surgery, are buried. The whole complex debate about whether the Western medical establishment is overly influenced by pharmaceutical industry pressure, insurance industry pressure, and so on, is settled before you even start exploring your options. Microsoft has chosen sides -- for all of us.
Yes, Bing is easy. It's always easy to have someone else choose your values and make your decisions for you. But is that good for society?
Google Wave also demos well. And what's not to like? The prototype promises the joining together of e-mail, chat, photo sharing and other forms of communication into a single online app.
At first glance, the "hosted" messaging system of Wave looks compelling. You can comment to a specific part of a conversation by dropping in your note right there in the message (rather than copying and pasting).
- Clearing the Network Hurdle to Cloud Deployment Although enthusiasm is high among IT pros for cloud services, an IDG Research Quick Poll survey found that, in fact, the cloud is...
- Accelerating the Delivery Microsoft Office 365 Many organizations use Office 365's cloud-based mail, collaboration and communication services as the dominant workload. However, as services move to the cloud, data...
- Virtually Delivered High Performance 3D Graphics "A picture is worth a thousand words." That old phrase is as true today as it ever was. Pictures (i.e., those with heavy...
- Who does NSS Labs "Recommend" for NGFW? In 2012, NSS Labs found that most available NGFW solutions "fell short in performance and security effectiveness." In 2013 NSS Labs noted "marked...
- Live Webcast IBM FlashSystem V840: Leveraging Software-Defined Flash to Drive Your Business With end-to-end, tightly integrated functionality and super-fast flash technology, products like IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution empower businesses to leverage the efficiency...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- IBM FlashSystem V840: Leveraging Software-Defined Flash to Drive Your Business With end-to-end, tightly integrated functionality and super-fast flash technology, products like IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution empower businesses to leverage the efficiency... All Networking White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!