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Googlebombing Pittsburgh?

Here in Pittsburgh, civic enthusiasts are so giddy over the prospect of the G-20 summit coming to town next Fall that that they just can’t help themselves.  A local marketing firm has announced that it is launching a campaign to create a network of links that would cause the Google search engine to reply “Pittsburgh” as the top result in response to the query, “The Best City in the World.”

At my local blog, I’ve called BS on this business, though not in precisely that way.  Sure, it’s a little bit of fun for the locals and Pittsburgh partisans everywhere.  But in part I’m exhausted by Pittsburgh’s insanely-insecure-and-desperate-for-validation “Sally Field” identity (“You like me!”).  And in part I think that this sort of thing — I’ll call it attempted Googlebombing, though some would parse that term in slightly different ways — has the potential to do real harm to what we might refer to as the commons of Internet search.

I’ll ask this audience, however, which I expect has little Pittsburgh sensitivity one way or the other, whether or not I’m on the right track with the latter point.

Below, Sally Field accepts her Academy Award for Places in the Heart:

1 thought on “Googlebombing Pittsburgh?”

  1. Yes, I think you’re entirely on track. Bruce Schneier put it nicely in a recent talk: “Data is the pollution problem of the information age.” Every bit of this sort of of information manipulation makes the common resource less searchable and so less useful. Clay Shirky claims that “information overload is filter failure”, which is true, but when everyone’s been trying to clog the filters…

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