Somewhere in the middle of the Google Books debate last night, it confirmed for me that we are in a ping server war. It's a little hard to see, but the ping server will become the new center of the net. Verisign's acquisition of Weblogs.com was the first salvo. I'm not sure Robert Cringley is right about Google-Mart, but he isn't entirely wrong. Google Base isn't just about volunteered structuring of data, but pushing pings (Mark Pincus isn't entirely wrong either, but that's another issue). The important point is there is tremendous value being the first to have information pass through your central node.
As an aside, the reason it occured to me in the middle of last night's debate was how part of the copyright argument was shifting from opt-in to opt-out, regardless of the specifics of this case. Google is suggesting that instead of getting permission from copyright holders first, others would contact them to opt-out. The reason this is an issue at all is because there is no registry of rights holders that is kept up to date. Maybe one day there will be a technical solution, and I'd imagine it would look something like an RSS page for each copyright holder that pings a server (or many) when ownership or contact information or license has been modified. In a moment of madness, I considered Google Books to be a marketing ploy for Google Base.
Now, a supposed ping war may not matter. Any time a network hubs around a node where the flow is valuable, an arbitrage exists. Central power of a ping server leads to the recognition of alternative servers. If that fails, the spiders start crawling faster. The only drawback is the network becomes inefficiently loaded trying to find even distribution. Such redundancy is a great reason to love the net. They dynamics here hold far less ability for control than the lower levels, we should be aware of them, but more gravely concerned about the concentration below.
So I'll apologize for this post. Can't make it groove like Steve Gillmor. Just a musing.