Google’s relentless mission

With each program Google launches, the company edges closer to accomplishing its mission, and this is what most media companies competing with them for ad dollars fail to see. A case in point is a CNN report on Google’s announcement that it is offering search capabilities for 200 years worth of newspaper archives. What’s a boon for history buffs is actually another effort by the company to organize the world’s information.

Sources range from free news articles on ad-supported sites such as Time Warner Inc.‘s (Charts) Time.com and The Guardian or snippets of articles available for a fee or via subscription, from newspapers like The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. (Time Warner is the parent company of CNNMoney.com).

Results are based on relevance, with no favoritism shown to any of Google’s partners, officials said. It is also taking a hands-off approach to how it may make money from the feature.

Participating news aggregators include Factiva, AccessMyLibrary.com from Thomson Gale, HighBeam Research and LexisNexis. Factiva is a joint venture of Dow Jones & Co. Inc. and Reuters Group Plc. Reuters is not directly offering its news through the archive search of Google News.

“It is another sign of Google learning to work with and enlist the content owners,” said Danny Sullivan, an industry analyst with Search Engine Watch.

The media industry initially resisted moves by Google to make online news or photos available through their search systems or to tape video broadcasts off the air and scan copyrighted books from some of the world’s great libraries.

But over the past year Google has convinced many of the world’s biggest media companies that Google’s search systems can offer a path to new revenues for content owners.

Ah, the lure of the path to new revenues. Meanwhile, the move strengthens Google’s position as THE search portal and, once again, gives them the ability to make money off other people’s content.

Don’t get me wrong. Mainstream media companies have no choice but to make these deals (with the devil?), but we need to be learning at the same time that Google’s mission is our mission — especially at the local level — and that the creation of local databases ought to be our first priority. The lesson here is the On-Demand Trap of which I wrote a few months back. We don’t want to find ourselves living only at the most expensive end of the content consumption value chain.

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