Google the new Microsoft?
The register had this article recently, in response to a NY times article asking the question it's almost but not quite taboo to ask: Is Google the new Microsoft? The answer of course is yes, that was totally obvious when they adopted their naively idiotic motto of 'Don't be Evil'. The only reason you'd adopt that is if you intuited evil lurking right by your door. A fact well known in folk knowledge, you know, never say never...
Doesn't mean it's not a good search engine, just means that you can't be a mega corporation with a virtual deadlock on your market without being evil.
Andrew Orlowsky though really hit it with this, and a series of other recent Google and search related articles. Nice going, solid as always. Check out especially page 2, which has a nice collection of google and search related stories.
Thankfully somebody out there is actually capable of thinking in at least a quasi macro way about these issues.
:: Quote ::The technology market is booming in one sector today. It's the dark side of ubiquitous computer networks: fuelled by spending on law enforcement. Writing in Open Democracy, Will Davies describes the boom as a surveilance dot.com era, and Davies quotes the British Home Secretary Charles Clarke as saying "the more we can survey the way in which people operate, the way in which they make their phone calls, the better your chance of identifying patterns of behaviour which are a threat."
Which results in "less faith on human judgement and more on spotting patterns in complex systems" - a favorite activity of Googleserfs and their fanatical supporters outside the Googleplex.
It's an article of faith amongst many of the company's employees, and certainly its fans, that cybernetic patterns can teach us something we don't already know, and that some deep epistemological truth will be revealed.
It's no surprise ordinary people find this creepy. Information isn't some special kind of stuff, and cybernetic patterns lead to disastrous consequences.
Trust is a precious commodity and almost impossible to regain once lost. Google's instinctive reactions to several controversies to date have been marked by na´vety and evasiveness. It often gives the impression that it's blissfully unaware of the responsibilities it carries. And while the company no longer responds to controvery by dispatching pictures of its goofy founders riding around on colored beach balls or tooling about on their Segways, it hasn't worked out a more mature approach, either. This deficiency is exemplified by company's most famous hostage to fortune - its corporate mission statement, "Do No Evil".
But that's for us to judge, not Google.
Andrew is responding to this new york times article [must have a New York times account, free, to read it]:
:: Quote ::"Google is at that inflection point where it's starting to act like an establishment company, and Silicon Valley is a rebel culture," said Gautam Godhwani, a founder and chief executive at Simply Hired, an online employment site.
"In the day, you'd hear that Microsoft was the evil empire, especially in Silicon Valley," said Brian Lent, the president of Medio Systems, a start-up in Seattle working on mobile-phone-based search. "Google is the new evil empire, because they're in such a powerful position in terms of control. They have potential monopolistic control over access to information. [ this is worth a second look, this is the key point to the entire discussion ]"
Mr. Lent, who worked closely with Google's founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, when all three were Ph.D. students at Stanford University, helped introduce Mr. Brin and Mr. Page to one of the company's earliest investors.
"I like and respect the Google guys," Mr. Lent said, "but let's just say that their ultimate aim seems to me to be, 'One Google under Google, for which it stands.' "
And that, my friends, is PRECISELY the corporate culture Microsoft has. Doesn't matter what you call something, all that matters is what it is: aka, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. Even if it insists that it isn't.
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