Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
8 January 2004

It has been noted before that search engines’s algorithms don’t magically provide the ‘best’ results for any query – they only provide the best matches using a given algorithm, and that algorithm can be biased. The latest issue of “First Monday”:http://firstmonday.org/ – an excellent e-journal – includes a detailed examination of one key aspect. Dr “Susan L Gerhart”:http://pr.erau.edu/~gerharts/ has attempted to determine whether the problems with such algorithms tend to conceal controversies and while her results (done on a small scale) don’t seem to show consistent failures she nonetheless suggests that search engines may indeed suppress controversy and adduces some interesting arguments why this might be the case alongside recommendations for search engine programmers of how to produce more representative results.

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