This is the kind of thing that makes me very nervous about the future of blogs as a “grass-roots” information medium. From the San Jose Mercury News comes this announcement of a forthcoming blog search service from Microsoft:
Microsoft became the first big Internet company Friday to say that it would create a special search Web site just for Weblogs.
The company said MSN Blogbot will debut in the first half of the year, along with MSN Newsbot, a search site devoted to news.
The service will not index all blogs, just the ones that MSN determines provide the most useful information, a company official said.
“We will look at credibility and popularity to get people the information they’re looking for,” said Karen Redetzki, a product manager for MSN.
“There are some blogs that may not be relevant to people. Those blogs we may never index.”
Somehow, the idea of Microsoft—or any other corporate entity—deciding for everyone what blogs are “relevant to people” is not reassuring to me. The potential for marginalization of interesting, provocative, or unique voices is enormous.
Why not simply index them all, and let relevance be decided through filtering mechanisms? Either algorithmically, a la Google PageRank®, or via real-world intermediaries (like, say, librarians) who provide a selection of recommended sources based on situation-specific user needs.