Idiocy in Action

You know, whenever I get to thinking that the depths of human stupidity have been plumbed, someone always comes along to demonstrate just how much further we can go. This guy is a prime example.

His big complaint seems to be that Google’s page-ranking algorithm, PageRank (clever naming there), isn’t “democratic” enough. He says this because Google ranks pages based (in part) on how many other sites link to those pages, and sites that themselves have a high PageRank have their links weighted disproportionately high when counting other sites’ PageRank. In other words, if I have a popular site, and I link to you, you show up higher in Google.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the political implications of technology, and the only thing I can figure about this guy is that he’s completely off his nut. There are some things we don’t want to be democratic! Any scheme for ranking sites is going to involve some selectivity. Indeed, that was the original brilliance of Google — they harnessed selectivity by figuring out that having lots of links to your site was probably a good way to indicate that people thought your site was good. From that, it’s not an unreasonable step to then say that, if I have a site that people have endorsed with many links, that I’m likely to know other good sites, and link to them.

Beyond the theoretical, too, there’s one thing I would say to anyone who complains about Google’s algorithm: Google works! It’s head and shoulders above any other search engine ever invented in accuracy. I nearly always find what I’m looking for on the first page of my results from Google. That’s what a search engine is supposed to do! So our grouchy author wants us to ditch a search engine that does its job excellently, because he’s got some philosophical issue with how it does it.

Like I said before, there’s always a new low. Congratulations, Daniel Brandt, you’ve just found it.