Matthew Hurst points out that Google’s terms of service for its new Analytics service allows it to use the collected data for its own purposes. Essentially, in exchange for free web visitor stats for your blog or web site, you agree to let them take advantage of that treasure drove of data being collected.
Seems like a fair trade to me. And it isn’t that much of a stretch to imagine it might be used in weighting search results in the future.
Of course, the flip side is that all of the algorithms that rely on link volume or site traffic (whether it is Google, Memeorandum, TailRank, PubSub, etc.) perpetuate the notion of the "favored few" web sites. This isn’t necessarily bad, as the vast majority of stuff out there has a hard time rising above the level of clutter. But no doubt many will be legitimately concerned about the effect this has on the long tail and whether it will thin the tail and swell the head.