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An Authoritative Opinion by an Expert on Authoritative Opinions on How to Outwit Google

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[First published as xo-laptop An Authoritative Opinion by an Expert on Authoritative Opinions on How to Outwit Google on December 3, 2007.]

This continues my series of the “authoritative opinions” that I have offered in that past; offer now with this post; and will continue to offer in the future. They are opinions from an Authoritative Source, a recognized expert in Authoritative Opinions.

That would be me.

Here are some examples of what I mean. Visit one or more of the following links:

I have also been certified as an expert in Authoritative Opinions on myself, Google search:”authoritative opinion on dave shields”

There you have it. Since Google searches all the web, and hence knows all the web content, and reports back on what it finds, Google has made me a recognized expert on Authoritative Opinions, and I thus have gobs and gobs of what I call Unexpected Authority.

Some are born with authority, some earn authority, and some have authority thrust upon them, as Google has thrusted some authority my way.

However, no matter how gained, authority is not of any value until you use it, just as money is not of value until you spend it.

Sometimes that authority is earned. For example,visit Google search: “chappaqua memorial day”. I live in Chappaqua, as do Bill and Hillary Clinton. By the way, writing this post changed my life in a profound way; see Fallen Soldiers, and Kyu Hyuk Chay: A Fallen Soldier, and Michael P Murphy: A Fallen Soldier.

I can fairly say I earned being #1 when it comes to “Chappaqua Memorial Day.” Not only did I earn it, I shed more than a few tears in the earning of it:

I now think of SSgt. Chay and Lt. Murphy at least once each day, and often several more times. When, if you are a citizen of the United States, did you last think, by name, about one of our soldiers who has died in battle in Afghanistan or Iraq?

I first became aware of the phenomenon that I now call Unexpected Authority, though I didn’t name it then, after I wrote the post: An authoritative opinion on the accuracy of the Holocaust movie Fateless.

I used the word “authoritative opinion” in the title since I knew it came from an authoritative source, a survivor of the Auschwitz Death Camp. I first learned of the observation reported in that post from his son, to whom I am related by marriage.

I recently learned, when his son and his family were at our house for Thanksgiving Dinner, that his father has an even greater level of authority in that he is related by marriage to one of the fewer than ten babies born in Auschwitz who survived The War Against The Jews; though I don’t know her name, she is alive and well, and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she is a member of the Satmar community.

Soon after publishing that post, there were several comments about it that I approved for inclusion in my blog. I soon heard from one of the parties that the other was completely wrong, and then got sucked into a debate between a Denier and a non-Denier of the Holocaust, though their comments were so addled that it was hard to tell them apart. I then sent a note saying they should have their debate elsewhere, and deleted the comments.

I wrote that post just two months after I became an active blogger. I use WordPress for my blog, and one of the features it provides is a list of the search strings that people that led people to my blog.

Over the next few months I noticed that surprising strings were leading to my blog, and then started what I called the “Trivia” page, in which I defined the notion of S-number, or S#, and reported some of the observed results. Though I haven’t made many entries lately, that page can now be found as a section in About This Blog: Trivia.

I suggest you visit that page, especially if you happen to work for Google.

I don’t know why I have been given all this Unexpected Authority, though I do have a theory, one that is consistent with the results I have observed:

  • Google and other search engines attach higher weight to the words in the title of a blog post than the words in the body;
  • Google and other search engines attach higher weight to newer posts than to older ones.
  • Thus, if you want to outwit Google and get your own Unexpected Authority, then follow this rule:

    Outwitting Google: Use as the title of a blog post the key words in the search string that you think people would use to learn something about your main topic. Be as specific as possible.

    Some examples of such titles are, in no particular order:

    When I write a post based on article or column in the press, such as the Obituary for Normal Salsitz, or a column by Tom Friedman, I copy the title of the article or column exactly, with perhaps a few additional words.

    The Ubuntu posts were very detailed in the titles. They were done as part of an experiment to demonstrate that much useful information about technical questions can be answered via what is known as “Support by Google.” Though many folks think open-source is not yet ready for “prime time” because it is not supported, the truth is that there is an amazing amount of information available — you just need to poke around using Google to discover the answer.

    As an example of this, I attended the k12openminds conference in Indianapolis this past October. It was the first national gathering of educators and open-source folks (most were educators). ASUS had a both there, and were demonstrating their new Eeee micro-laptop. I mentioned to their representative that I had built a $150 Ubuntu box using their C1 Terminator, that I was now a recognized source of information on that product.

    I have recently added a new twist to my blog titles. For example, I started three projects when I first fell in love with the XO laptop:

    • xo-laptop: about the laptop itself;
    • xo-ubuntu: about Linux and the open-source infrastructure of the XO (the missing piece in XO is Ubuntu. It now uses Fedora, and thus needs to start leveraging a far more powerful community, that of Ubuntu, as soon as possible.)
    • xo-python: about Python, mainly to provide instruction in its use on the XO or to improve the XO.
    • I realized just a few days later that, while it seemed a neat thing to have topic-specific blogs, I had sacrificed my growing readership in the process. To start a new blog is to start way back on the Long Tail and begin the long journey that is needed to Escape From Obscurity.

      So I decided to fold those blogs and do it all out of one blog, except for the Fallen Soldiers effort, as that is a completely separate project. I now put tags at the start of posts, and this is why you will find strings such as “xo-laptop” and “xo-toys” at the start of some of the titles of my posts.

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Written by daveshields

December 12, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Posted in xo-laptop

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