Google's top exec team is hitting the road. At Web 2.0, Google's, Omid Kordestani, chatted with JB. Today, Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, spoke at the Association of National Advertisers Annual Conference in Phoenix. His presentation was titled, "Technology Is Making Marketing Accountable." News.com's Elinor Mills was there and reports in: Google ETA? 300 years to index the world's info.
If this 300 year until Google has it "all done" number sounds familiar, it is. Schmidt said the same thing, sort of, back in June when he spoke to Delaney and Barnes at The Wall Street Journal (see Battelle's summary here). News.com even posted on the 300 year comment back then.
I said "sort of" a moment ago because today's comment is slightly different from what Schmidt said June although I think he's talking about the same thing. In June, Schmidt was quoted saying it would take 300 years to "organize" all of the worlds information. Today, he said it will take 300 years to "index" all of the worlds info and make it searchable. In othe words, that's when Google's mission will be reached. The 300 year number was obtained after Googler's did a math exercise.
Well, unless Google is working on some type of human longetivity program (who knows, maybe they are, how about some sort of vitamin called "GoogleNim Chewables" featuring all of your favorite Google personalities), none of us will be around to see Google's mission accomplised. Nevertheless, this 300 year estimate makes for interesting talk and keeps Google's name in the press (what else is new). Maybe Bill Gates will soon say it will take MSNjust 200 years to get it all done. Now, there is a feud for you. (-:
Indexing is Not Always The Same as Organizing
In my opinion, there is a big difference between indexing content (putting it into a database) and then organizing/providing access to it and the allowing people to find what they're looking for without much effort. As the database grows larger the organization becomes even more important.
Once the content is identified, licensed (if needed), made digital (if needed), the actually indexing is relatively easy especially when compared to the organizational part. Access and organization are two different things.
Even today, it's possible to be indexed by a large web engine but that doesn't mean your site(s) will be easily found (especially since most people only look at the first few results) and every site can't be on the first page. Of course, being able to judge the quality, currency, accuracy of the info (criticial info skills) are more important than ever before but that's another story for another time.
What About 50 Years?
On a related note, in Chris "SearchDay" Sherman's new book Google Power, Sherman tells the story of a conversation he had with Craig Silverstein, Google's CTO, where Silverstein estimated it would take Google 50 years to completely crack the invisible/deep web problem of pulling useful data of out large/specialty databases.
Of course, 50 years is also a long time (I just turned 40) but I'll again say that just having data in a large, often uncontrolled database, doesn't mean people will find it. I think these are some of the reasons that so much money and effort is being spent on developing verticals (aka specialized databases) both from the large search companies as well as many smaller players. Smaller, focused databases, can also help contribute to a perfect search.
More From Mr. Schmidt
So what else did E.S. have to say today? Here are a few highlights.
+ When he [Schmidt] arrived at Google four years ago he was skeptical consumer of text ads. "You've got to be kidding! People actually click on this stuff? And they do."
+ Technology and the interactivity it enables, such as the ability to measure an Internet ad's success rate by viewing how many people click on it, is shifting power in the advertising industry from executives at corporations to consumers, he said. "The power is moving from us to the end user; it's occurring by the power of the personal computer, by the power of the cell phone," he said. "Thirty years ago we would make the decision (about ads). Now, that person, that individual makes that decision.
+ Schmidt predicted there will always be ads on the Internet but that there may be an "ad-free subset" of the Internet that might offer a different way for people to pay for things, such as using micro-payments.
+ On Google Wi-Fi in San Francisco
Schmidt mentioned that the plan arose out of work that several engineers did on a system that would allow companies to make money offering such a service. "It's an interesting experiment," he said. "If it scales and if it is successful, we think it's going to be very good for the world.
+ On U.S. Copyright and Google Library Project
A "fair use" provision under the law allows for excerpts of copyrighted material to be used and Google will only display snippets of copyrighted text, he said. "That model seems to be durable," he said. "We're very, very careful if copyright is owned..."
I do my best to explain the basic differences between Google Print for Publishers and Google Library in this post.
Much more in the Elinor Mills article: Google ETA? 300 years to index the world's info.
Postscript: If you're interested in learning about just how much info is out there, make sure to take a look at the How Much Info? 2003 research project from UC Berkeley.
Postscript 2: Credit to Google Blogoscoped's Philipp Lenssen for a comment he sent to me via email. Lenssen said that it's likely that Google will release their full product in 100 years but keep it in beta for 200 years. This comment has had me smiling and laughing all afternoon because PL (as always) is right on the money.