SIf there's a successful business model in the whole "user-generated content" revolution, it's in compnies getting for free services they used to pay for. Google is planning to let users rerank search results for it. Digg's users already do something like this for news headlines — likely why Google was interested in buying the well-trafficked geek-popularity contest. So why pass on it? By applying similar techniques to search results instead of news, Google doesn't have to worry about charges of copying Digg. Rather than beg Digg to sell, better to borrow functionality — and steal free labor from users.Kudos to Google for recognizing that machine intelligence hasn't quite become our overlord yet, and that there's value in aggregating human effort — and for doing it more elegantly than Amazon.com's overcomplicated Mechanical Turk. Still, at least the Turk offered users a nominal fee. Google only offers the possibility of better search results to appeal to your self-interest. The plan also offers opportunities for all sorts of bad behaviors, from harassment to mob rule. Just like Wikipedia! If you thought that Googlebombs mocking our current President, George Bush, were bad, wait until the public is allowed to vote bros up and hos down. Best-case scenario? We at least get a switch to toggle between the algorithm's tyranny, the wisdom of the crowd, and the self-affirming homogeneity of our social circle. (Photo by AP/Ric Francis)
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