Google vs. Evil revisited

September 4th, 2005

A year ago I made a translation of a Wired article “Google vs. Evil”. This article is now four years old, but yesterday I read Jason Bell’s blog and found there a story that reminded me of the older article on Google.
I am not an idiot, I noticed the irony, so read on!
Point is why articles like this start to pop up since Google’s IPO. Before Google going public it had the charm of Linux. Nevertheless, the Wired article questions Google’s submissive attitude towards govermental pressure where nowdays we have to question Google’s pressure on goverments.
The latest Google project Google Print (perhaps not really the latest, but the one that made some waves) causes copyright-holders and libraries to raise concerns on the possible exploit of their property by Google that does not hold any right on them. Google offered copyright holders an opt-out to appease their concerns.
Well in fact if you opt-out this equals destroying your content - Google will not do it explicitly as annonced in the article, but your product will be virtually invisible as Google is the search-engine Superpower. This “either you’ll comply to our conditions or you’ll be eradicated” fits perfectly how the military Superpower acts nowdays.
Google is largely unaffected by govermental regulations unlike Microsoft that sells its products and thus has to comply with some laws. As Microsoft started/relaunched (in a desparate attempt to stop Google becoming the web’s hegemon) its search service everybody had the same concerns that now materialize in Google’s strategy.
I don’t want Microsoft to save me from that but I think something has to be done to limit the abuse of market share to prevent it becoming market power. Our culture that became so much richer by the web (and Google!) will quickly degenerate to MacInfomation when indexing of information will become indexing of products. Let’s face it: Google’s shareholders payed a ridiculous price and money can come only from selling things and as long Google does not sell anything directly the money has to come from content-providers.
In worst case you’ll have the top 1000 hits for “healthy nutrition” referencing the composition of a BigMac because McDo can outgun all other providers of “quality” content. A search Superpower, receptive to money and sufficiently “flexible” in its moral will give big companies a venue to extend their media control to the web.
Perhaps Google is not evil. I hope so. But their must be something like a true choice.