Blog future vs NYT future: none of the above!

Five years ago, Dave Winer made a "long bet" with New York Times executive Martin Nisenholtz: "In a Google search of five keywords or phrases representing the top five news stories of 2007, weblogs will rank higher than the New York Times' Web site."

Five years later, Rogers Cadenhead has done the math and concludes that blogs are edging out the Times (but that other mainstream media outlets are beating both of them -- thanks to the NYT having squandered the golden years of cheap googlejuice acquisition by erecting a registration and paywall on their content, causing them to fall behind less well-known, but more readily linked news-sources).

Most interesting of all is that Wikipedia (only a year old in 2002) is clobbering both of them -- more proof that the future is weirder than we can know. In 2002, it seemed like the two choices were "amateurs you trust" or "unbiased, accurate, and coherent" information from an "authoritative source." In reality, the third, unforeseen choice was "a horde of nameless, faceless amateurs who are not required to prove expertise in the subjects they cover."

Whenever someone asks you which of two futures you think is more likely, your best bet is always "none of the above." Link (via Kottke)


  1. a horde of nameless, faceless amateurs

    Yes! damn those little people and their ignorant hides!
    If you’d listened to them, you’d think they’ve been responsible for most of history!

  2. Andrew Keen is turning in his grave…

    …what’s that?…He’s still alive?

    …Oh…well…I’m sure he’s pissed.

  3. Actually ::adjusts library nerd glasses:: what sets apart Wikipedia is that every entry is a summary. That’s the whole point of encyclopedias, doncha know. NYT articles and blog entries aren’t really designed to do that.

    Plus it’s not (just) about authority and trust…

    Searchers don’t want certainty, they just want to reduce their uncertainty. I learned that in Library School. In 1994.

  4. Yay for Library Nerds, for they probably make up a nice chunk of the hobbyist Wikipedia editor sect.

  5. Actually, I’ve seen a fair bit of evidence that Google artificially inflates Wikipedia’s rankings — it often appears higher than more directly relevant results and higher than the same search on other engines.

    So the better candidate for 800-lb gorilla is Google itself, which can tweak the results to favor its preferred sources.

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