Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Open search engines

Stefan Krempl and Robert Smith, Greens warn against sides effects of search engines, Heise Online, March 21, 2005. On the campaign to get search engines to disclose their ranking algorithms. Excerpt: 'The parliamentary group of the Greens in the Bundestag, the lower chamber of Germany's federal parliament, is especially worried about the "googleising" of society and current trends in the area of search engines. Hence with a 23-page booklet, which has been published on the Web site of the parliamentary group, the MPs want to re-enliven the debate about the market dominance of the net portals, the somewhat obscure ranking of search engines and the at times opaque ways in which user data are used....Consequently the spokespersons of the parliamentary group welcomed initiatives that aimed at understanding the mode of operation of the dominant search engines whilst at the same time, for instance, attempting to collect extant Net content in a decentralized manner, a way of proceeding that, for example, SuMa, the German Society for the Promotion of Search Engine Technology and Free Access to Knowledge has truly taken to heart....Thus in Mr. Neymanns´s opinion it was important "to strengthen alternatives to the current market leader Google." This could be accomplished, on the one hand, by the use of existing but less well-known search engines or meta-search tools, and on the other, as the Greens point out, through projects dedicated to creating decentralized catalogues and search engines, of which the academic Project Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) is an example, or by fostering the growing interest in "free search engines," which disclose their algorithms. As early as mid 2004 the Bundestag had already dealt with topics of a very similar nature.'