Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Keywords

An article caught my ear this morning on NPR. It seems a local realty firm has purchased the rights to keywords on Google and Yahoo, which make their realty firm's page show up at the top of the list whenever someone does a search for these keywords - which happen to be the actual names of other realty firms. Not surprisingly, there's a lawsuit. Eric Goldman, a professor at Marquette University, discusses the suit on his blog.

Now, this seems to be a bad idea. It's slightly shady business, and takes advantage of a new technology by misdirecting consumers. Maybe I'm behind the curve on this one, and it's been happening behind our backs for a while. But, really.

As a librarian, I'm horrified that one can purchase a keyword. Search terms are there to assist users in accessing information accurately. The idea that someone can skew the results of a search by obtaining "rights" to a keyword goes against everything libraries stand for.

Frankly, I think the ALA should sit up and take notice of this, and perhaps take up the issue of purchasing keywords at all. Heaven forbid some marketing guy gets the bright idea to purchase a keyword for a library's computer search!

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