Many times over recent years as the competition has played out between Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google (and AOL, I suppose) I've thought of a line from Henry Kissinger's book, "The White House Years" describing the duel between the U.S. and Soviet Union during the Cold War. The line goes like this:
"The superpowers often behave like two heavily armed blind men feeling their way around a room, each believing himself in mortal peril from the other, whom he assumes to have perfect vision. Each side should know that frequently uncertainty, compromise, and incoherence are the essence of policymaking. Yet each tends to ascribe to the other a consistency, foresight, and coherence that its own experience belies. Of course, over time, even two armed blind men can do enormous damage to each other, not to speak of the room."
It's always seemed such an apt description of the exertions of the "superpowers" online and, especially, their affect on the room. This week's announcement of the Yahoo! and Microsoft search deal brings it to mind again, though the deal is relatively benign in relation to it's affect on the overall Internet advertising market. Search happens on a mountaintop these days. It's only scary when the companies living at that altitude climb down off the mountain to carouse in the streets of the Internet community swinging their clubs at each other, blindfolded.
Maybe the Yahoo!/Microsoft deal announced this week will keep them all confined to the mountain for a while, which should be fine with the rest of us.