That perception of Google's search engine - that sense that "we the people" control its workings - continues to hold sway among the public. But while it may have been true once - and while it may in fact have been the company's founding ideal - it's not true anymore. Google's engine is a meticulously hand-crafted, continually optimized machine that does precisely what Google instructs it to do - even if that means filtering results to protect the company's reputation. Google may have good in its heart. It may, for the time being anyway, be fighting on our behalf against the forces of distortion that it has unleashed. But let's not forget that Google's machine is not our machine. It's Google's, for better or worse.
--- Nick Carr, "Google's machine," Rough Type, January 26, 2007