The IssueDramaturg, 2007

Information retrieval is normally not considered dramatic. On the Web, however, information sources are in constant competition with each other to be returned in the top ten for any given query. The competition is particularly fierce for products and services. The quest to reach the top often prompts companies to enlist the black arts services of search engine optimizers. When Google learned, in February 2006, that a leading German car-maker was using optimization tricks to boost its engine placement, it set the car-maker's pagerank to zero, de-listing the site from the returns. Matt Cutts, the Google engineer, regularly blogs about violaters of the engine company's principles. "If you work at a large company that has doorway pages, keyword stuffing, or other tricks against our webmaster quality guidelines (...), consider this a courtesy notice that Google will be paying a lot more attention to spam (...)." [1] Webmaster tricks are engine spam, and Google appears to be watching them.

For every query, from the mundane to the crucial, there is a number one source. Once a site has made the climb to the top, there is the question of maintenance. How long does a site maintain the bragging rights of being at the top? How to capture a prodigious rise to the summit, or a precipitous fall from grace?

With a "www" query, in 2005 a Piet Zwart Academy researcher was able to provide a list of the top fifty sites on the Web, the vast majority from the U.S. The query was repeated over time, and the results of individual sites were graphed in a form akin to stock price changes, albeit for the "hyperlink economy." [2] The New York Times climbed dramatically. The International Red Cross rose onto, and then sadly fell off the list. has developed a tool for the next phase in the research into the continuing drama of changing engine placement, showing for the first time a site's pagerank - per query! The output of the IssueDramaturg, a Google Actor-Issue PageRank Profiling tool, with its special query string scheduler, compares sites' engine ranking for the same issue, showing in refreshing, hyperlink economy-style graphs the lifts and the sags.

[1] Matt Curts, "SEO Mistakes in Other Languages," Matt Curts: Gadgets, Google and SEO, blog entry, 11 January 2006,
[2] Dragana Antic, Hyperlink Economy, Triangulated results of 'WWW' query in Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Teoma, with profiles of top actors over time, 26 April 2005, (2-piece set).