Who coined "Google effect?"
April 29, 2006 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Who coined the term "Google effect" and what was its original meaning?
posted by pessoa to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Every big site on the net has a something effect, meaning the effect of a site when it is linked to by the larger site. Basically the linked site is shut down/crashed by the amount of traffic. It was the Slashdot Effect before the Google Effect, and then there's the Digg Effect, etc etc.
posted by xmutex at 1:53 PM on April 29, 2006

I've actually never heard the "Google Effect" being used to mean the same as "a site which has got Slashdotted" (ie crashed because of massive bandwidth). Adding a website onto Google doesn't crash it, since Google has very little instant "huge amount of traffic over a short time" traffic level effect that can bring a website down.

A quick Google search (what else?) points to plenty of use of the phrase, but little understanding of what it means. As someone who reads the internet press every day, I've no idea what is meant by "the Google effect", other than to be pretty sure that it doesn't mean what xmutex thinks it does.
posted by jamescridland at 2:24 PM on April 29, 2006

Yeah, it seems the term "Google Effect" hasn't been coined by anyone - its use depends on context (unlike the Slashdot effect which has a clear meaning).

Google effect could refer to the effect of Google's mass hiring on real estate prices in Mountain View, CA, or the switch by spammers from using keyword-stuffed pages to link farms, due to the way that their search algorithm works, etc..
posted by helios at 2:55 PM on April 29, 2006

Pessoa, what do you think "Google effect" means? I've never heard the phrase before, and am curious as to what you think its current meaning is.
posted by jdroth at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2006

I did a quick search of a couple databases, and the earliest authoritative usage I can find is from November 25, 2002 in a Guardian column by Sean Hargrave called "The Search Goes On":
"Still, even Yahoo is not immune from the Google effect. 'One of our ways forward now is to concentrate on search,' King admits. 'It's a reaction to the market that is demanding more relevant search results. So we're working hard to make sure our software can realise what people mean when they type in a search term."
In this article, it seems that "the google effect" is that Google made search engine companies (Yahoo, AltaVista, Lycos) stop focusing on being "portals", and get back to focusing on just getting the best search results with better technology and larger indices.

It feels like there must be an earlier usage, but it might take a couple hours to reach any kind of certainty. Try asking librarian (you're paying them anyway).

I found this in Lexis-Nexis by the way.
posted by Hildago at 3:19 PM on April 29, 2006

Until recently I worked at Google and paid a lot of attention what people say about the company. I've never heard the term "Google effect" in common usage and have no idea what it might mean. So one vote against it being a phrase in common usage.
posted by Nelson at 3:40 PM on April 29, 2006

jdroth--Well, when I used the term in a blog post the other day, I meant that Google's ubiquity among consumers has caused an expectation of nearly instantaneous, relevant results in other contexts, like enterprises, even when in those contexts Google's algorithms may not return the results people need. I think this is probably similar to what the sources Hildago found were getting at. When I went back to investigate whether the term was as well-defined as I'd assumed, I found, like helios did, a wide array of different meanings and was curious to know if my usage was standard or fringe.
posted by pessoa at 3:57 PM on April 29, 2006

I don't think it has a specific common meaning, other than as a general description of a specific effect of Google's existence. For example, consumer expectations of search usefullness and speed, increased traffic, changing web-design practises (etc.), may be referred to as 'the Google effect', in context.
posted by MetaMonkey at 4:25 PM on April 29, 2006

If that isn't clear, what I'm trying to say is 'the Google effect' may describe any and all effects of Google on the world, rather than having a specific meaning like 'the Digg effect'.
posted by MetaMonkey at 4:27 PM on April 29, 2006

was curious to know if my usage was standard or fringe

It would appear that there is no standard usage, and that all usages are fringe.
posted by jjg at 4:40 PM on April 29, 2006

I'd vote for "Google effect" just being a punchy-sounding way to say "the effects of Google", be they social, economic, philosophical or whatever.

Technology companies are on the up again: it's the Google effect.
It's easier to find old friends' websites, thanks to the Google effect.
The Google effect means that catchy domain names don't matter so much any more, because search just works.

And so on.
posted by reklaw at 5:46 PM on April 29, 2006

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