Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Nov 26, 2005 5:32am

seceding from googlistan

While in Europe, I decided to secede from Google.

I'm starting to get creeped out by the volume of information they're hoarding, influenced by the rhetoric of the AttentionTrust, and doubtful of the longevity of the "Do No Evil" company motto. Someone smarter than I said: "When all the good-guy founders have left the company, Google still has your data."

I thought of a few ways to accomplish this:

  • Use robots.txt to disallow Google's search bots. This is the naive approach that relies on search engine trustworthiness.
  • Use some variant of khtml2png or ImageMagick to render all text content on my site as GIF text, making it opaque to bots but usable for humans. This is a more difficult approach that will work until the day Google merges their book-scanning project with their search engine.
  • Stop blogging.

Ultimately, I decided it was a silly idea. I don't get a ton of search engine traffic (except for "giant ass") and I don't much care. The stuff I write here is public by definition, and HTTP responses aren't an aspect of Google data retention I'm afraid of. What I'm really worried about is the correlation between searches pegged to my browser cookies, mail processed through the GMail account I don't use, instant messages transmitted through the Google Talk account I don't use, and usage information about my website culled from Google Analytics and Google Web Accelerator.

Meanwhile, the proprietor of WebmasterWorld has seceded for real. Black Hat doesn't get it. It sounds to me like Brett is trying a controlled experiment, to see how traffic on the site is affected by dried-up search engine hits. The site in question is a conversation forum, and I can imagine that it would be desirable to exercise some control over the kinds of people walking into your salon. If you want to keep the conversation on the level, you discourage casual participants and bias in favor of dedicated readers and writers. If I were in his position and made this decision, that might be my rationale.

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