The GoogleWeb, pt 2
Why are there no public search engines? We've got public libraries, but no public search engines. To be sure, the analogy isn't a strict one - the point I'm trying to make is that maybe the Web needs a public search engine with public APIs to become a truly public institution - because the private sector always has an incentive to privatize and capture any rents available. Like Google's doing.
If the Web is a public resource, then it will always be of limited value without a public search engine - because the aggregate value created is bounded by the efficacy and accessibility of the search mechanism.
Google's crippled APIs mean that a huge, huge part of the Web's potential value has become a deadweight loss to society - that loss is the difference between what people could do with public APIs to build cool things, versus the limitations on building those things private search engines will always impose. That's why we need a public search engine.