Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder and engineering mastermind, made an interesting point in an interview with the Guardian. Maybe you’ve read it already, but just to reiterate the point I want to discuss:
[Brin] warned that the rise of Facebook and Apple, which have their own proprietary platforms and control access to their users, risked stifling innovation and balkanising the web.
“There’s a lot to be lost,” he said. “For example, all the information in apps – that data is not crawlable by web crawlers. You can’t search it.”
Brin takes hard shots at his biggest rivals in the industry right now. Apple and Facebook are clear threats to what Google wants accomplish, whether it’s world domination, serving ads, or simply indexing the web.
There’s a sad outburst that occurred after this interview. People immediately fled to the point I just made – Brin was probably serving his own company in those statements. But, regardless of Brin’s reasoning, there’s something that’s glaring at us right now. I’m not here to say the perpetrators of a closed, non-searchable web are any or all of Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, and the like. I’m posting this for another reason.
I’m posting this because he’s right.
Imagine if Wikipedia launched as an app. Even worse, what if it launched as an app on one platform. Not only would we not be able to find the contents of it anywhere except for this particular app, only a certain fraction of privileged users would be able to access it. Take that, all the social content, all the sharing, all the information that we’ve been able to index on numerous search engines, and think about all the information that could be lost.
Brin may have been selfish in his statement – I’m not going to agree or disagree with that, because that’s not the point. The point is that we, as users of the web, are losing the resources we were once selflessly served freely. And that’s a problem we’re going to need to solve. Fast.