Microsoftâ€™s success in operating systems spawned an entire industry of hackers dedicated to finding flaws in the software and creating exploits and viruses. The most expensive computer virus was the MyDoom attacks on SCO in 1994. It is estimated that the loss of productivity cost businesses around the world US$ 38 billion. Both SCO and Microsoft offered rewards of US$ 250,000 each but they were never claimed.
Now hacking has moved from the desktop to the Internet. And there is a new monopoly whose success is a large target to the â€œblack hatâ€ community of hackers: Google.
Creating industry standards drives down costs and reduces misunderstanding. Remember the days (if youâ€™re old enough) when you needed to produce document files in different formats to ensure everyone got a file they could read? Microsoftâ€™s success also became its problem.
Monoculture in farming results in a vast breeding ground for parasites and diseases that flourish in a world where their favourite food is plentiful. It is necessary to ensure economies of scale that results in cheap food. Just so with Microsoft. But it does become a target, and those viruses and problems are part of the problem that created the ambivalent attitude that the general public has towards the company.
But Microsoft never got all preachy about not â€œdoing evilâ€ as Google manifestly declares in their articles of association.
Now Google has lost its virginity dooming countless businesses to Google Hell.
Businesses are falling foul of new rules created by the Google programmers to try and cut down on the content of web spam. The Black Hat SEOs (named after the eponymous spy in Mad Magazineâ€™s Spy vs Spy) love gaming the system to get higher rankings. They do that with targeted links, massive content sites and link-backs. Sometimes they pay for these; mostly they just write hacks. Ever wondered why captchas are necessary?
A recent product release is theContentSolution which will automatically create vast numbers of pages for your website filled with content more or less relevant to your site.
Why do the black hats do this? Partly itâ€™s the fun of gaming a popular piece of software; such as finding France listed first under the search â€œworldâ€™s greatest military defeatsâ€. And there can be real cash benefits in hosting adverts (see the entry on Bubble 2.0).
But, in their heavy-handed response, Google has alienated a vast number of legitimate businesses. They are realising the danger of pinning all their customer sourcing hopes on a single operator. In pushing their agenda, Google may turn seemingly innocent “white hat” behaviour (like getting a high Digg count by getting friends to vote for you) into something that gets you banned. Unlike Microsoft, though, the switching cost to another search engine is not that hard.
Perhaps there is a genuine opportunity for Jimmy Walesâ€™ WikiSearch project.
Categories: American Culture