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The Search Party

Publication Date: 
January 11, 2008
The New Yorker
Ken Auletta

Professor Lawrence Lessig is quoted in a New Yorker article about Google. He comments on why the search engine is so successful:

Lawrence Lessig, who teaches law at Stanford and has long been a student of digital culture, says, “Google’s brilliant because it architects its system so that, when people do what they want to do, they give something to Google. When I do a search, I give Google my evaluation of what the best search is. Google profits from that. If I want to send an e-mail, I give Google data.” These data invite advertisers to bypass traditional media buyers and let Google manage their Internet advertising. When I asked Sergey Brin if Google would displace media buyers or media sales forces, he gave a somewhat elliptical answer: “We have no desire to screw a category of people, to trick them or something. We legitimately want these partners to be successful.” He believes that “the nature of these functions” may change, just as the role of librarians has. Google, he says, should be regarded as a tool to help media buyers, who for the most part serve large advertisers. He envisions Google doing more to serve small businesses, and of established media buyers he says, “Are they going to buy a one-hundred-dollar spot in a small newspaper?”