@lucy24: your flower arranging book analogy resonates with something I've been pondering about today. This past weekend I visited a flea market and bought a book about rhododendrons. It is a monumental volume of some 500+ pages, large format, beautifully printed and bound in early 1970's, the way they never did since. It is clearly the author's life achievement and contains references to results of 40+ years (!) of studies and experiments. It contains everything you even wanted to know about rhododendrons and then 400+ more pages. My own interest in rhododendrons compared to what I can find in this book is only a passing fancy - I just wanted to know why mine are dying :) and if I can do something to prevent that.
Anyhow, the reason I bring it up is that I only paid $3 for the book. It has no catchy dust jacket (not lost, it just didn't have it the way encyclopediae didn't need it back then) and most of the illustrations are hand-drawn in black ink (very nicely) and all photos in the book are black-and-white.
So, if you were in the business of "organizing the world's information", this would be the book you'd be showing to your customers (visitors). Your average modern consumer might be put off by B&W photos, hence UX parameters would not be very good - time with the book, number of pages open, that sort of thing. But the information contained there is top notch, you would really want to show this book.
On the other hand, if you were Barnes & Noble and had a primary interest in selling the book, you would not bring this type of a book forward - you would fist show a book with a glossy dust cover with a beautiful color photo, regardless of what's actually inside.
I guess, the parallel to Google is that we're still trying to wrap our heads around why it ranks sites the way it does thinking that they are still organizing the world's information. This is clearly no longer the main objective. They have a business to run and shareholders to report to.
As soon as you start picturing Google as B&N and not as a virtual Library of Congress, then it all makes sense:
* User experience rules! - feature what's already popular with users.
* Domain (host) crowding - sell more of what already sells well
* Trust sales (umm.. sorry, visits) data more than user reviews (if they buy more of what they hate most - who cares, sell more of that anyway)
So, anyway, Google has decided that they've collected enough of world's information, now they are in a business of retailing access to it. Now it all makes sense to me...