Thursday, March 29, 2007

The DNA of the Web (an example of a long tail perfection)

Not long ago I have published a post about the soul of the Internet, where I depicted the Web as a living organism. Now that the digital sphere contains not only objects but also sObjects, the living organism is becoming less of a metaphor and more of a reality. And so it occurred to me that every newborn in this virtual world, i.e. every new web page, could well have some sort of genetic information embedded into it, and that’s how the question of what is the DNA of the Web came up.

I think it is not risky to claim that most of the Web’s newborns (excluding, probably, Virtual China) would soon own a genetic code made by Google. More precisely, it is Mother Google that will give them birth, and so each one of them will necessarily contain the Google DNA – a spirally entangled code that grows adSensors and interactionDetectors, enabling the newborn to speak the adLanguage while reporting to mom about any of its encounters.

Well, I assume that these are no news for most of you. Nevertheless, I do see value in telling an old story that can demonstrate how easily digital sobjects are manipulated, or rather instrumentalized. For Google succeeded in creating a perfect long tail machine where each dot on the tail serves as a surrogate mother for a Google child. These dots are certainly me, who uses most of Google services, and most probably you too.

So how this long tail perfection evolved?

Step 1: A single page

In step 1 all that existed was the page with a search box. No monetization.

Step 2: Adding some ads

Ads were added to the same single search page. Monetization began.

Step 3: Long Tail#1: Distributed Search

At this stage, ads were presented only at search page and so Google’ strategy was to drive more and more traffic into the page.
Long Tail#1 was to convince other sites to include some Google code that generated a Google search box on their pages. Searches in that box were routed to, and so more ads were presented and clicked. Who did the traffic routing for Google? We did.

Step 3: Long Tail#2: Distributed Ads

A single page – as successful and attractive as it may be – is still a single page. It’s 1 out of an infinite number of web pages that are waiting to be converted into the Google adWorld. It is a limited adSpace vs. an infinite adSpace.
Only this infinite adSpace was owned by us, not by Google, and so Google created a compensation model, an incentive for us to embed Google’s genetic adCode on our site.
Now that’s the second manifestation of a devilish brilliance from Google’s part: if Google wants to expose 1 million ads in a certain day they have two options: exposing all million ads in a single high-traffic site, or one ad at a time across one million niche sites. In the first option Google has to pay the high-traffic site; in the 2nd option, the niche site will see money from Google in a thousand years.
And thus, by selling a dream to the millions of us, Google converted many web pages into the Google DNA.

Step 4: Long Tail#3: Surrogate Mothers

If we take all the web pages on the Internet and embed a Google DNA inside their guts – they will generate roughly the same amount of money month after month. This is impossible for a growth-oriented company, and so the Internet (i.e. adSpace), like the Universe, must expand ad infinitum. Here again Google perfected the long tail principle. They created a reality in which the burden of expanding the Web falls on us, digital sobjects, whereas the entire expansion enterprise is tightly governed by Mother Google, who guarantees that any new web page will carry its DNA from cradle to grave.

Gmail makes part of that Google’s Reality. Gmail is nothing but a nickname for any Google service that generates, out of our utilization, new web pages that carry the Google DNA; only this time there’s no way out.

All Google services are aimed at the infinite expansion of the Web, at the creation of endless poppy fields from which commercial quantities of adSpace are produced. Mother Google succeeded where nobody else did: we have become the farmers, the producers, the pushers and the consumers of our own _____, a damn happy particles in a Google adWorld.


Anonymous Udi h Bauman said...

Very cool & provocative vision!

Just saw today someone's depiction of the solar system (, in which our planet was properly named: Google Earth, although they'll probably won't be satisfied with just a planet.

Seems like you're exposing not just the big machine the web is, but maybe also the inner motivation of the machines that will rule the world one day, which is a good thing...

5:30 PM  

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