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I am thinking along the same lines as you are.
First off, when judging the new algo it is useful to compare the results from fi to the results from February because this is when the backlink data are from. This being said, I am seeing much poorer results on almost every single category I follow. Even sites that are without question the definitive resource (like actual product brand) seem to have fallen dramatically in the new algo.
The other point that you make is that overusing freshness seems to lead to trashy pages with hardly any "votes". This is a fundamental problem with the new algo.
Lastly, it seems that PR plays less and less of a role as time goes on. I think, overall, this really hurts the quality of results. Because Google ostensibly could not control the manipulation of PR, they have decided to give it much less weight when scoring and it REALLY throws the system out of whack.
However, Should I panic!
Dont think so, I assume that this is the PR of a couple of months back as my site is only two months old and was a PR0 back before the last update.
GG - if you are about would you say this would be likely and drop a hint along the lines that when backlinks are added then PR ranks may change?
www is a bit like a deck of magical cards.
www-sj, www-fi, www-ex and the other datacenters are the individual cards in the magical google deck.
Every time you pick up the deck of cards, i.e., do a search, google shuffles the magical deck.
So, sometimes the top card won't change, but sometimes it does. And Google the Magical can also palm up a different deck that has 51 Aces of Hearts and one Joker whenever he/she/it elects to do so.