I’ve been thinking a lot about how the web is changing. Here’s Nilay Patel:

There’s a theory I’ve had for a long time that I’ve been calling “Google Zero” — my name for that moment when Google Search simply stops sending traffic outside of its search engine to third-party websites.

When I first heard this phrase I felt a sigh of relief. I’ve always ignored Google when it comes to my writing on the web and I’ve had this unspoken but fundamental belief that, as an independent writer, it’s not helpful to think about how a search engine will read my work. If anything it will lead to bad writing, like SEO-written titles.

This might sound all the alarms for you though. If the web we know is dying, where is it going next? And if we don’t know the rules of this new game that we’re playing, how do we win?

I don’t share this kind of anxiety. I mean, I would if my business was entirely dependent on Google but boy trusting any of these platforms in the first place was the real problem there. The whole point of the web is that we’re not supposed to be dependent on any one company or person or community to make it all work and the only reason why we trusted Google is because the analytics money flowed in our direction. Now that it doesn’t, the whole internet feels unstable. As if all these websites and publishers had set up shop perilously on the edge of an active volcano.

But that instability was always there.

Like, sure all these websites could make a business model on web advertising and being on the front page of a Google search could mean piles of cash but under the hood this broke the web in such a way that Google became the front-door of the whole internet. Their goal was always to turn the web into a “platform” and that was very, very, very good to certain lucky folks but also very, very, very bad for the collective web.

So Google search imploding is good for the web in the long term maybe? Here’s Jeremy Keith on that:

Our guard is up. Our filters are activated. Our default mode is suspicion.

This is most apparent with web search. We’ve always needed to filter search results through our own personal lenses, but now it’s like playing whack-a-mole. First we have to find workarounds for avoiding slop, and then when we click through to a web page, we have to evaluate whether it’s been generated by some SEO spammer making full use of the new breed of content-production tools.

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing about how this could spell doom for the web. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. It might well spell doom for web search, but I’m okay with that.

I am, too!