Don’t Give Away the Farm!

So Google and ESRI will allow indexing of ArcGIS Server services by Google (and anyone who crawls the web). So what does that mean moving forward. It really isn’t big news if you think about it because this “feature” (service description) is already enabled in ArcGIS Server 9.3. The problem with this is no one has really been thinking about what this means for everyone. If you expose these metadata pages to the Google Bot, you’ll be opening up your services to the world.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a great thing. As a user of data, I’m always wishing that I could search datasets using Google rather than the haphazard way we do it today (luck has more to do with it than anything), but data providers will lose control of their datasets. Plus how do you monetize your information in such a world?

There are two types of organizations on the Internet, those who want to work with Google and those who don’t. A great example of a company that isn’t allowing Google to index their pages (well beyond the Whitehouse) is Facebook. You never see Facebook results on the web and that is probably why they have been so successful. Giving away your data to Google can be dangerous to your business model.

That said, I’d like for everyone to expose all their data on the Google so I can perform my job much easier. Maybe I’ll be surprised and there will be millions of new datasets available from ESRI servers by the end of the year, but I’m not holding my breath.

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