Another Letter At The NY Times

Web Searches

To the Editor:

Matthew Hindman and Kenneth Neil Cukier (Op-Ed, Aug. 23) are right to worry that 95 percent of Web searches are conducted by two companies, now both publicly traded.But they are silent about what to do when the search for profit threatens the quality of information.

One possibility to consider is a nonprofit search engine, financed and maintained by federal, state or local governments. Public policies to guarantee that citizens receive the information they need are as old as the Republic.

A government-run search engine would be nothing more than an electronic version of the local public library, where public employees have long had the task of deciding what information is available to Americans.

Timothy E. Cook

Baton Rouge, La., Aug. 23, 2004