Is Turkey's search engine a backlash against US Internet firms?

Turkey is building it's own search engine. Expect more such ventures as countries seek control over their digital economies.

Reuter's reported that Turkey is building it's own search engine and it's ready to go in 2010.

This could be a sign of things to come. And I don't think it is due to a US backlash but rather countries, and even regions, gaining control over their Internet infrastructure.

Back in April, 2006 I wrote about Google, Yahoo, Ebay, Amazon becoming the digital Wal-Marts of the Internet 2.0 era.

Just as Wal-Mart has had trouble moving into, and staying in some communities, the big US Internet players will face similar challenges as they try to target local advertisers.

Why should communities pay GOOG to run ads in their community? Why not keep the money in that community rather than send it away to please shareholders of a company 10,000, or even 100 miles away?

That's essentially what Turkey is doing, but using security concerns as the main pretext. The more valuable benefit will come from owning its own piece of the Internet and vital applications such as search and e-mail, on which you can build a regional digital economy.

I can see many countries adopting a similar approach. And it's not that expensive. Search technologies are better understood these days and can be bought off-the-shelf. And while a government led initiative might lack some of the operational efficiencies of a Google or Yahoo, the gain from running your own Internet infrastructure and applications will be worth it.

This approach can also apply to smaller communities, even say Northern California. In January 2007, as San Francisco was considering a Google-built metro Wi-Fi, I saw a potential for a People's or Public Internet (PI).

The power of PI: The rise of community owned Internets

There is no need for a middleman, there is no need for a GOOG or YHOO tax on people engaged in their daily interactions with their neighbors. As offline and online worlds become better integrated through a plethora of Web 2.0 social network applications, it will enable a People's Internet (PI).

Communities will succeed in owning their regional Internets because they can-- the technologies are inexpensive and incredibly powerful. And there is a lot of value in the community.

What's the value of San Francisco's community of 800,000 residents as an online community? It's huge.

YouTube for example, wasn't acquired by Google because of its technology, it was acquired because it was a large community of users.

The value doesn't reside in technology but in community.

Communities can acquire the technologies they need; most technologies are commodities, available to all at the same price. San Francisco already has a high-speed fiber-optic network built by the city for city IT uses. It wouldn't cost that much to expand it into full blown PI. The same is true at many other cities.

Commercial companies will have a place within a People's Internet, providing services such as managing infrastructure operations, and keeping out the malware.

But it is the ownership and governance of a PI that is important; that's what determines who gets what slice. Who gets the largest piece of the PI becomes important within every community and it ensures fair and ethical use of a vital communal resource.

And instead of relying on private companies, and trusting they will observe rules of privacy and free speech, a PI would automatically install its community's rights, which would be the same online as they are off-line -- a seamless transition.