Blogger and former journalist Tom Foremski reports he had a conversation with the head of engineering for Google in Brazil and says the guy supported the idea of open-sourcing the search index:
I mentioned an idea I had about making the Google index into an open database that anyone could access, I said that this could dramatically speed up the Internet.
He said it was a good idea and that I “should write a position paper” on this subject.
Since this is hearsay (as opposed to heresy) we don’t know exactly what was said. But Foremski goes on to explain and argue that multiple search indexes and crawlers take up bandwidth and slow his site’s (and the internet’s ) performance and are generally inefficient.
Many people would presumably welcome the idea of a single open-source search index (this is a cousin of the argument about an open database of places.) And there have been various efforts to build such an open-source search index that can be used by multiple parties. Yahoo’s BOSS is a similar project in a narrower sense. However the idea that Foremski is pushing is that Google open-source its index or that all the majors collaborate on a single index.
It won’t come to pass any time soon in all likelihood. But if it were to happen what then would be the difference between Google and Yahoo or Microsoft or AOL? The difference would reside in the algorithm and UI. Somewhat ironically, this is the same pitch that Yahoo is making to the market in a post-Bing index world.
What Foremski is calling for would do little to address Google’s critic’s issues, however. Their issue is with Google’s control over the algorithm and how sites are ranked, and not about the search index per se.
See the related post: Google: As Open As It Wants To Be (i.e., When It’s Convenient)