Google has written an interesting blog post on their official blog that explains what they think being "open" means. It's an interesting read, and has spurred a bit of a debate whether Google is "open enough".
Some people say: "If Google is so open, why isn't their search algorithm public?" My response to that is "Why would that help you, or anyone else?" Well, Chris Dixon points out that most arguements against opening up their algorithm goes something like this:
The alleged argument against doing so is that search spammers would be able to learn from the algorithm to improve their spamming methods. This form of argument is an old argument in the security community known as “security through obscurity.” Security through obscurity is a technique generally associated with companies like Microsoft and is generally opposed as ineffective and risky by security experts. When you open source something you give the bad guys more info, but you also enlist an army of good guys to help you fight them.
I would agree with the argument he dismisses which reads: "search spammers would be able to learn from the algorithm to improve their spamming methods." The only people that would benefit from an open algorithm would be people looking to artificially elevate their search engine ranking -- a big LOSE for people actually looking for information.
As far as enlisting an "army of good guys" goes -- Google already has an army of good guys behind their closed doors. In addition, anyone who proves themselves a worthy "good guy" will probably end up working at the company at some point in the future anyway.
Here's Google's take on opening up their algorithm:
While we are committed to opening the code for our developer tools, not all Google products are open source. Our goal is to keep the Internet open, which promotes choice and competition and keeps users and developers from getting locked in. In many cases, most notably our search and ads products, opening up the code would not contribute to these goals and would actually hurt users. The search and advertising markets are already highly competitive with very low switching costs, so users and advertisers already have plenty of choice and are not locked in. Not to mention the fact that opening up these systems would allow people to "game" our algorithms to manipulate search and ads quality rankings, reducing our quality for everyone.
A closed algorithm is fine for me -- what about you? Let's hear your side of the argument in the TalkBack!