Human Face of Search: Danny Sullivan

Human Face of Search: Danny Sullivan

Just read some great pieces about Danny Sullivan whom I’ve known since we, and the Internet, were young!  His good friend, and former colleague, Barry Swartz wrote about Danny’s role at Google where he landed last fall after retiring. CNBC’s Jillian D’Onfro writes about Danny’s role in reassuring people Google isn’t evil!

When I first knew Danny: “Sullivan is credited with popularizing the term “search engine marketing” and has been described as the father of the industry. His search career started in the mid-90s, when Yahoo owned the space and Google didn’t even exist. Sullivan was enthralled by the emerging web and quit his job in newspapers to join a friend’s web development company. He wrote his first guide to search engines in 1996.”

Since librarians have also been very interested in search for a very long time, Danny became a popular speaker at Information Today conferences, especially Internet Librarian. BTW, Google founders attended Internet Librarian in Monterey CA in it’s early days!

Danny himself says: “My personal mission statement is to provide reasonable explanations as issues come up…Not as an excuse but to help people understand why something happened. If something has gone wrong, we explain why it went wrong. Otherwise, people assume things that didn’t happen. It’s about taking ownership over an issue that comes up, understanding how we’re going to improve it, and then actually improving it.”

And learning from our mistakes, something else librarians are trying to do these days.  Learning from our successes, sharing those with each other, but also learning from our failures.  Always engaging our customers.  Librarians are among the most trusted people according to Pew research and Danny is helping Google in that regard too. Even if as Google Liaison he says, “We’re not a truth engine. One of the big issues that we’re pondering is how to explain that our role is to get you authoritative, good information, but that ultimately people have to process that information themselves… We can give you information, but we can’t tell you the truth of a thing.”

As Pual Edmonson, CEO of HubPages, says, “I think Danny always wanted to hold Google accountable in the right ways… I would gladly trade a journalist covering search for someone inside of Google who has empathy for people creating content for the web and who has the greater good of the ecosystem in mind.”

I say go, Danny, go and not just in a galaxy far, far away! Keep up your great work!

 

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