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May12
Reaction To Google Co-op Mixed
After posting my initial thoughts on Google Co-op, I received a few comments and read several blog posts on this tool that were less than complimentary.  A few of them are highlighted below.

Comments Left On HealthCareVox  

Jessica Otte was less than pleased with the quality of Web sites she found using Google Co-op.  She said:

“I'm not impressed. A search for ‘kidney stones’ brings up http://www.rogerbaxter.com/KidneyStone/index.html as site number 2. I cannot find any references cited or any evidence that the creator is a urologist or medical researcher. It may be accurate information, but honestly, is this the most reliable way to learn about kidney stones?

Google thinks it is 'reliable' because the site has over 3 million hits? The same author/domain also hosts "the Japanese beetle website." There are ads for Amazon books all over the site. None of my textbooks or sites like pubmed, mdconsult, or statref have that added feature. Maybe I'm missing something!”

Jessica, I think you are right to be concerned.  In my original post, I mentioned that it is likely that non-credible Web sites would be highlighted in searches.  Clearly based on your example, Google’s new tool needs a lot of work.  I guess that Google is trying to up the reliability of information by asking people to subscribe to “trusted annotators” who will vet Web sites.  It remains to be seen whether this will be effective.

Speaking of “trusted annotators” David Williams had this comment:

“My own view of Google Health is a little less benign. Why should users provide free consulting to Google? Doesn't Google Health strike you as a way to have users better segment themselves for advertisers?”

Well, David, I’m a big believer in Web 2.0 and its power to aggregate the collective wisdom of the masses to develop and highlight high-quality content.  It looks like Google is taking the Wikipedia route and relying on volunteers to vet and categorize content.  

I’m not sure whether Google would be able to use volunteers for market research or segmentation purposes as this group is likely to be highly motivated, tech savvy and knowledgeable.  Actually, I take that back.  The audience I just described is a really high-value consumer population!

In sum, David you’re right.  Google may be able to use these folks for market research, but I’m not sure whether it would be superior to other data they collect from users.  (By the way haven’t you ever noticed that if you sign in to Google Mail, Google seems to tracking your subsequent searches?)

Check out David’s post on Google Co-op by clicking here.

Google Scholar Gives Google Co-op A Thumbs Down

Finally, Dean Giustini over at the Google Scholar blog gives Google Co-op a “thumbs down.”  He asserts that the search tool does not have the flexibility or power needed to provide high-quality content on-demand.  Click here to read his post.  

That’s it for now.  Thanks everyone for reading and commenting on this topic.

4 Comments/Trackbacks




Hmm. Sounds interesting, Fard, but I also feel uneasy about it because the whole "wisdom of crowds" thing tends to ignore the often selfish and lazy aspect of crowds and the people in them. Especially when compared to emotionless algorithms. But definitely worth a look - I'll go check Google Co-op out. Thanks for the post!

» [LEVEL3] MIxed Reaction from Marketplace.MD Update
Healthcare Vox reports a mixed reaction to Google Health Co-Op. [Read More]

Easton:

Thanks for your comment. I guess we disagree on the whole "wisdom of crowds thing!"

Fard

Fard, I don't know how it will work, but I really hope you're right and that it will. I would really love to use a tool like Google in an enhanced form thanks to high-quality human editing.

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