I've written many times that one of the things that intrigues me about the SEO industry is how new it is. The training wheels are barely off the search engines themselves, let alone the SEO industry that has grown up around them. Sure, I will probably get some angry comments on this point. People will say "I was doing SEO in 1998 when Lycos...." I'm sure you were. And I'm happy for you. But that still makes the industry barely over 10 years old. An infant learning to walk by almost any business measure.

Here is an example, in my opinion of how young the industry is. Take a look at this lengthy personal squabble between SEOMoz's Rand and a bunch of others here. I took the time to read the entire interchange, and it is very lengthy. To paraphrase, there seems to be some disagreement in the SEO community over statements that may or may not have been made by Rand regarding the Linkscape product before it came out. The disagreement seems to center on the finer points of SEOMoz's technology. Specifically, do they do their own crawls of the Internet or do they get the data from some third party sources. However, the harsh words are not really attacking the idea that third party data is used. It seems to be more about the fact that some people *think* that Rand represented Linkscape as capable of crawling the entire Internet when it's not.

I am a new comer to the SEO world. As you can see from my corporate background (here), I had virtually no involvement in the direct-to-consumer Internet before last year. All of my time was spent building Internet applications for Fortune 100 client internal use. So while I felt like I lived and breathed the Internet, it was a very different experience. Public opinion issues like Rand is facing were never part of my world.

I personally could care less if the SEOMoz data is gathered from third party source or personally collected by the milk man. I think the main point is what they are able to do with it. Until data is mined, transformed and otherwise milled, it is just data. Business information, on the other hand, is like gold. Is seems to me that Rand and team understand the difference between data and information. That's smart business.

But my bigger reaction is, once again, to ponder just how infantile the SEO industry is. It seems to have no footing. There is always controversy. Information is shaky and the air is filled with fear. Your reputation rides on what several key bloggers have to say about you. What other industry do you know where that is the case? Not many. Again, I come to this space with fresh eyes, having not been involved. But perhaps this is what it was like when television first came out. I'm guessing there were all sorts of fights over what's right and wrong to do on TV. Now those arguments seems silly out of context so many years later. I think some day we will think of the crazy early days of SEO the same way.