Why the purchase? Steven Johnson theorizes thusly:
- But Google has not yet ventured into managing the information and surfing history of individual users.
If Google went in this direction with the Blogger acquisition, it would hearken back to one of the seminal documents of the computing age: Vannevar Bush’s 1946 “As We May Think” essay, which envisioned a new tool to augment human memory. Bush’s imaginary device, called the Memex, would help manage the ever-accelerating explosion of information in the world. Bush imagined the Memex as a machine of connected documents that from one angle looks a great deal like the modern, Web-enabled computer. But in one crucial respect, Bush’s vision differed from today’s Web: He placed great importance on the trails created as the user moved through information space, assuming that a record of those trails would be of great use in amplifying the signal of human memory. In many ways, our networked computers have wildly exceeded Bush’s vision, but our trail-recording tools are still woefully undernourished.
I’ve now spent the past eight years exploring the Web practically every day, and over that time I’ve probably stumbled across thousands of documents that were worth preserving, yet the tools I have for organizing that history are minimal at best. Bookmarks are helpful if you’re tracking a dozen sites, but beyond useless if you’re managing 10,000. If Google can organize the entire Web with such efficacy, imagine what it could do with a much smaller subset of documents. It could make each individual’s long, meandering surfing history into something genuinely useful. Right now, the best tools for recording our surfing patterns are the family of Weblog tools on the market, Blogger being the most widely-recognized brand. Google is a tool for discovering new places to visit on the Web, and Blogger is a tool for recording those visits.
Blogger isn’t nearly as adept at recording visits as Google is at searching for Web sites, but with the potential exception of other Weblog tools such Radio or Movable Type, it’s the best game in town. And by acquiring Blogger, Google gets access to the user base, thousands of individuals who are already sold on the premise of storing their Web actions for posterity
….Google is the encyclopedia of the connected age, and bloggers are the trailblazers. If Google simply uses Blogger to update its database more rapidly, it won’t change the Web experience as we know it in any profound way. But a genuine trailblazing device would be a way of preserving – and widening – the paths that our lives have carved through information space. [Slate]