The latest issue of MIT’s Tech Review has a great article on the future of web search engines. It mentions Nutch, an effort spearheaded by Doug Cutting (creator of Lucene) that is implementing an open-source web search engine. “The Nutch Organization is a public-benefit non-profit corporation”, that seeks to provide a window onto the proprietary algorithms used by engines such as Google. In so doing, the project provides a standard that can be used to expose for-profit search engines that are indexing content based on payments, or incentives unrelated to page merit or relevance, and provides us with high quality source that anyone can use.
Who wants their search engine to be an indirect form of advertising? Wouldn’t we like to know why search results are ranked the way they are? I’m not alone in feeling nervous about Google’s power. Anyone who wants an alternative, can donate to the Nutch project, or write some code.