For Google

Nilay Patel, the Verge:

Google Search is so useful and so pervasive that its overwhelming influence on our lives is also strangely invisible: Google’s grand promise was to organize the world’s information, but over the past quarter century, an enormous amount of the world’s information has been organized for Google — to rank in Google results. Almost everything you encounter on the web — every website, every article, every infobox — has been designed in ways that makes them easy for Google to understand. In many cases, the internet has become more parseable by search engines than it is by humans.

I am reminded of Goodhart’s law in thinking about the adversarial relationship between Google and search optimization experts which, presumably, will morph into a similar situation between artificial intelligence services and self-proclaimed experts in that field. Because it has been an unrivalled default for so long, there is no reason for the most popular parts of the web to work anything better than as a feed for Google’s consumption and, hopefully, its users’ attention. All of this has broken the web as much as it has broken Google Search.

Patel wrote this as an introduction to a series of articles the Verge is running this year in recognition of Google’s twenty-fifth anniversary. The first, about Accelerated Mobile Pages, is a good summary of the kind of control Google has over publishers.