Fred posted on the weekend about giving Bing a chance. I am doing the same this week having set Bing as the default search engine in Firefox. My main reason is that I firmly believe in the need for search diversity. A search mono-culture would be bad for the Internet for several reasons:
- Too much power. Search is so central to the web experience that it provides a lot of power. That power should not be concentrated in a single player with a very high market share. I am not suggesting that Google would necessarily on purpose abuse its power in a big way, but with employees who have large equity stakes in a publicly traded company there is no doubt that decisions on the margin are influenced by a desire to maximize profits.
- Self-reenforcing effects. Google has an algorithm which it has been varying and improving over time, but it is a fixed algorithm none-theless. This means that certain sites benefit by appearing higher up in the results which drives more traffic towards those sites. More traffic, however indirectly, translates into more resources for a site and if handled properly will allow those sites to maintain or even improve their ranking.
- Single point of failure. The great resilience of the Internet depends on there being no single points of failure. Google itself is of course architected not to have any single points of failure but one level up it is still a single system. It’s not even necessary for it to be entirely unavailable. It could simply be an issue of an important bug, such as was seen at the end of January, when for a brief moment Google claimed for every site that “this site may harm your computer.”
For these reasons, I would feel better if there were at least three major players in search (hoping that Yahoo will revive its efforts too). That’s why I am giving Bing a try. In fact, it would be great to have a plug-in that randomizes between your choice of providers as a way to wean oneself off over-reliance on a single search engine.