Jon Fine has come up with a really stupid idea - he thinks that making content invisible will somehow make it more relevant:
What if 2006 is the year big media players take aim at Google's kneecaps? No, not with more lawsuits; the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers -- on behalf, in part, of BusinessWeek's parent company, The McGraw-Hill Companies -- and Agence France-Presse have already sued the search behemoth. Rather, picture this: Walt Disney, News Corp., NBC Universal, and The New York Times, in an odd tableau of unity, join together and say: "We are the founding members of the Content Consortium. Next month we launch our free, searchable Web site, which no outside search engines can access." (A simple bit of code is all it takes to bar all or some major search engines from accessing a site.) "From now on we'll make our stuff available and sell ads around it and the searches for it, but only on our terms. Who else wants to join us? Membership's free."
Yeah, that's worked so well for the Times. Hey Jon - noticed a distinct decline in links over to TimesSelect recently? How do you suppose that happened? You think that making their opinion pieces invisible might have had something to do with it?
Yes, I know that this proposal doesn't involve a pay-wall. It does something just as stupid though - server side directives to stop bots from Google (and Yahoo, and MSN, etc., etc.) from slurping up the links. That's every bit as stupid. I'm using Firefox, and what do you think is right up in the top right corner? Why, it's a Google search box. How do you think I typically search? What do you think MS will ship with the next rev of IE - same kind of thing, only the default will likely be an MSN search. Which is how most IE users will search as well.
Jeff Jarvis nailed this in his riposte:
Well, that would be hugely stupid. And though huge companies can be stupid, I don’t think they’d be that self-destructive. For the truth of life today — like it or not, lump it or not — is that Google is everyone’s front page. And, yes, that can make life difficult. Google kills brands; Google commodifies everything. But that’s not Google’s fault. That comes part-and-parcel with this new, distributed world where we control the entry to the content we want and where there is no longer a scarcity of content that lets a few big players control it and us. Wishing this weren’t so won’t make it not so.
So let me think - Fine thinks that a bunch of content companies should team up, gather their content, hide it from search engines, and then get people to visit. Exactly how would users find the content, since the plan would be to hide it from search engines? I've seen a lot of stupid plans before, but this one ranks up there with the *cough* plot *cough* of "Surface".