me, upon learning about GoTo (1998 or perhaps 1999):
This site won’t last five minutes. If anybody can game the system (pay their way to the top), the results will suck and nobody will use it.
GoTo became Overture, bought AllTheWeb and AltaVista, and got bought by Yahoo for $1.63 billion. Their business model was copied by Google, where it accounts for the vast majority of their enormous and growing revenue, and completely turned the company around. I was wrong because I hadn’t thought of the scale. When one particular company knows they can pay to get higher, the results will suck, but when every other company in the industry knows that too, economics will sort things out; it’s in their best interests to be relevant to searchers.
me, upon learning about PageRank (2000 or 2001 probably):
That’s terrible! If they only show popular sites, those sites will just get more popular and it won’t be long before no new sites ever get found by anyone.
I was partially correct, however the case of the popular becoming more popular was already occurring anyway, as people followed links. Also PageRank is just part of Google’s algorithm, which also incorporates timeliness, and it is definitely possible for newcomers to get in.
me, upon learning of Technorati (2002)
um… what’s the point? It just shows backlinks, it doesn’t even have any search, nor a “what’s popular” listing (like Daypop for instance).
One thing I forgot: people love knowing who links to them. Today Technorati does have search (of several sorts), and a whole bunch of “what’s popular” listings. They’re also the most successful (at least in terms of popularity) blog search engine, very innovative, and have spearheaded the wonderful microformats initiative, largely thanks to Tantek.