On page B1 of today's Wall Street Journal (3/1/06), Lee Gomes wrote an amusing piece about his stint writing "original content" for web masters who try to design high traffic sites geared around a specific topic. The desired content is often similar to (or pulled from) content on exisiting pages, but must include include certain search keywords and contain enough original phrases or word changes from existing copy to rate highly in web searches. Gomes hires himself out for the task of producing such "original content" and in the process, learns something about web economics and the effectiveness with which search engines provide us with information.
Drawing from Google's search mission the idealized image of a "satellite orbiting high above the earth, capturing all its information but interfering with nothing", he finds instead that "search engines are more like a TV camera crew let loose in the middle of a crowd of rowdy fans...Seeing the camera, everyone acts boorishly and jostles to get in front".
Here's a link to the article.