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Author Topic: The conflict of interest that is Google  (Read 24545 times)
Renegade
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« Reply #75 on: November 19, 2010, 11:16:27 PM »

My apologies for double posting, but I did not want this to get lost.

Historical precedent demands that any discussion of information aggrandizement and control by an entity as large as Google must encompass the lessons of history.  I am not prophesying this will occur within any specific time frame, but please consider the ramifications of the inevitable "what if" when the vast power and resources are usurped by a future non-benevolent government?  This is the real "inconvenient truth."

+1

While it may sound like a conspiracy as CodeTRUCKER has mentioned, I went on briefly about this in another post.

You do NOT need to believe in conspiracies and you do not need to be paranoid to follow the logic that there are patterns in history and that they are repeated. All that says is that humans behave in ways that are somewhat predictable.

South Park went on about this in their episode parodying Tiger Woods and his affairs. Give a man huge amounts of success and money, and he'll start cavorting around with as many women as he can. It's not rocket science. It happens. It's pretty predictable in a probabilistic way.

We only need to look at those "super-powers" like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the like (which would include oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, agri-business companies like Monsanto) and then look back in history and find analogs to them. There are far too many analogies in history to ignore.

We can say look at this, this, this, this, this, this, and THIS example in history and how they are all very similar to the present.

Machiavelli wrote about this in detail. Guess what? He was right. He described how things really work.






(Continued in another post because I don't want to pollute this one with what I'm about to write...)
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« Reply #76 on: November 19, 2010, 11:34:27 PM »

In the FWIW Department...

I spent all day trying to find some information on Google and never found it.  Then I tried a search engine called...


[Click on the graphic.]

And found what I needed the first try!  Guess what was the search that was so difficult...

"Outlook 2010 next unread message"

No kidding, that's all it was and every other iteration I could think of to try.  FYI - I have no affiliation with Yippy.
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I applaud those that refuse to commit "intellectual suicide."

Truth, unlike opinion, tradition, etc. will always be able to stand on its own.  Truth is not a static, but a living entity and will perpetually impart life; therefore, any "truth" that does not or can not impart life can not be Truth.

I am persuaded the only reason bad men have succeeded is not because good men have done nothing, but that good men did not do enough.

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« Reply #77 on: November 19, 2010, 11:40:26 PM »

If you want to get really depressed consider the big GA. Google is so evil with all those extremely detailed data mining features to manipulate your way to the top. What feeds and encourage screwed up search results right? Who is using GA besides Google? Can you hear the silence? Wink or who is really bothered besides a handful on a few forums? Who take part of this conspiracy? Is there a single corrupted power we conveniently can point at, warn against, link to! - or have many joined forces? Well, focus is wrong when digging in to details about how Google test what can be done with a toolbar, dns-server or whatever. Breaks up ABC order. Fact is most of those producing content, responsible for content are in bed with Google and smiling. Fascinating but tiny issues showing Googles "real" motives for "not evil" claim might not even be true, then or at least today. Google have made many "mistakes", corrected many as well. Google notes was indexed per default when introduced. Personal notebook published to the world. What does it tell you about how they think? Buzz thingy in Gmail is another example. I would be surprised if they do not "test" the waters from time to time. They probably have many people hired with that job description. Don't be so surprised - if a web admin with GA, ads and all don't act so surprised. Goal justify the means.

Btw, when testing a google search result you do remember to do localized search for every region in the world? There is no generic result since long. Using account/personalized web history just make it less meaningful to refer to results. Also goes for those who feel ever so happy by using 3rd party proxy - conditions of search decide results. Google can say, hmm next week lets try to pimp X in Sweden. Quick, take a screenshot! Well correct and false. I think they are way ahead of "researchers" smiley
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Renegade
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« Reply #78 on: November 19, 2010, 11:51:59 PM »

First, let me preface this post by saying that I am reluctant to make this comparison, but it simply is the best one because so many people are familiar with it in-depth. Yes... I'm going into Godwin territory... (This will only be political, and not address the holocaust.)


I also want to make it clear that I am using these examples to set the stage as they form background information for the topic at hand.



The rise of the Nazi party is well documented. Hitler's seizure of power follows small steps that progress towards his ultimate take over of the Reichstag and his ascension to power as dictator.

If you watch the first 3 episodes of Star Wars (I, II, III), Palpatine follows the same basic steps in his rise to Emperor. i.e. This is a familiar theme that is repeated in story telling.

So we fully understand the path where a perceived crisis leads to a solution that erodes some kind of freedom.

Thomas Hobbes wrote the definitive work on this with The Leviathan. He outlines exactly how crises in nature lead us to surrender freedoms to a "sovereign".

This theme is echoed by John Locke as well in his "social contract".

There are many, many, many more works in non-fiction and in history about this exact procession.



I'm not stating anything that isn't well documented.



DIGRESSION TO CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Now, when you look at the state of affairs in the USA over the past 40 years or so, you see a clear trend where the "terrorism" theme is introduced in the 1970's, expanded in the 1980's, ingrained in the consciousness of the public in the 1990's and beginning there, used to slowly erode freedoms until 2001 when "911" is used to polarize the public and introduce legislation that effectively gives the government carte blanche to do whatever they want.

The most recent developments are the TSA conducting "enhanced body searches" which really equate to sexual assault. Please search on this topic for further information. There's lots out there along with a massive public backlash over it.

However, history shows us that backlashes like that against the TSA are short lived by the public in many cases. They have only to keep it up until people tire of fighting against it. China is a good example of the same basic process where dissidents are marginalized and suppressed until the public at large surrenders.

Another example of the erosion of basic freedoms in in how current legislation is on the table to make it illegal for US residents to grow food or use seeds that their gardens produce.

You pretty much need to be brain-dead to not understand that making it illegal for people to grow food is bad. But that is what is happening right now...


WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH GOOGLE?

The analogy here is that governments are merely "agents" in the philosophical sense of the word, and that companies are also "agents". "Agents" normally includes humans as agents as well, but for the purposes here we only look at organizational agents. Note that a king, queen or emperor would also be an agent in the same sense in that they are institutions in and of themselves even though they are confined to a single individual. (Incidentally, this concept of agency is well presented in the TV series "Merlin" when you look at Arthur's father and his attitudes towards the monarchy/throne.)

However, you need to look at more recent history to see the same themes played out. The British East India Company. Exxon Mobile. AT&T. Standard Oil. Microsoft (<2003~5). Monsanto. The list goes on and on and on. The problem there is that these stories are not rally ingrained in the popular consciousness the way in which the Nazi example is. Still, they bear all the same signs of the rise to power.



ABOUT US HERE AT DONATIONCODER

Now, we focus on Google and technology topics here, but the same issues exist elsewhere and they do not differ significantly other than in the names of the companies and the names of the individuals involved. That is, they are all playing out the "Star Wars" theme of the rise to power (the same theme discussed by Thomas Hobbes, Niccolo Machiavelli, John Locke, and countless others).

If we were all farmers instead of techies, we would be having the exact same discussion, but instead of Google, we would be discussing Monsanto. (However, Monsanto truly is much more evil than Google because they are further under the radar than Google is.)


WHAT CODETRUCKER IS POINTING OUT...

CodeTRUCKER has neatly pointed out that we have sufficient historical precedent to genuinely have concerns over what is happening in Mountain View (and Dublin as that's where they funnel their money through).



CodeTRUCKER, you are 100% right on the money.
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« Reply #79 on: November 20, 2010, 12:04:13 AM »

Unfortunately, this debate can only have two perspectives.  There can be no neutral position, so take your pick...

  or  

[Edit - Nice post, Renegade.  I really hope history does not repeat itself.  Sad ]
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I applaud those that refuse to commit "intellectual suicide."

Truth, unlike opinion, tradition, etc. will always be able to stand on its own.  Truth is not a static, but a living entity and will perpetually impart life; therefore, any "truth" that does not or can not impart life can not be Truth.

I am persuaded the only reason bad men have succeeded is not because good men have done nothing, but that good men did not do enough.

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Renegade
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« Reply #80 on: November 20, 2010, 12:34:21 AM »

Unfortunately, this debate can only have two perspectives.  There can be no neutral position, so take your pick...

   or   

[Edit - Nice post, Renegade.  I really hope history does not repeat itself.  Sad ]

Thanks. smiley

One of the frustrating things for me is it all just seems trivially obvious.

Another source of frustration for me is Americans that don't understand what the right to bear arms is about. It's not about protecting yourself from some burglar... It's about protecting yourself from an oppressive state. It's really not that hard to understand. States throughout history have banned weapons for that reason and that reason alone -- they didn't want uprisings.

While I'm not American (though I am North American smiley ), I appreciate and admire the US constitution and how the country was formed. It's an amazing story. It's sad to see it being flushed down the toilet though. Too many people just don't know their history lessons. Sad

Sigh... No hope... ;(
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« Reply #81 on: November 20, 2010, 12:38:48 AM »

remember our no-politics policy.. let's not let this thread get too far down the politics hole.
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Renegade
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« Reply #82 on: November 20, 2010, 12:57:50 AM »

remember our no-politics policy.. let's not let this thread get too far down the politics hole.

Sorry. It wasn't my intention to make things political. I wanted to outline the background that underlies the topic.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #83 on: November 20, 2010, 02:18:32 AM »

I really don't understand why there can't be a neutral position. That's what I'm trying to take here. Trying to be objective and stick to facts, evidence, and reason. Like I said, I like what Google provides me, but I'm not blind to its issues nor the simple reality that it is a large corporation and, existing in the US capitalist system, it will naturally tend toward certain negative behaviors.

At the same time I don't want to take the position that big automatically equals bad, or that anyone (or anything) who is successful must be regulated, reduced, resisted, removed for fear of abuse. Excellence should be rewarded, and that's certainly how Google started out. If that's no longer the case, then things should change over time, but I still find Google's search and other services to be pretty much top of the heap. If nobody has solved the spam problem yet, it's hard to be mad at Google alone for that.

- Oshyan
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« Reply #84 on: November 20, 2010, 06:13:03 AM »

In the FWIW Department...

I spent all day trying to find some information on Google and never found it.  Then I tried a search engine called...


[Click on the graphic.]

And found what I needed the first try!  Guess what was the search that was so difficult...

"Outlook 2010 next unread message"

No kidding, that's all it was and every other iteration I could think of to try.  FYI - I have no affiliation with Yippy.


Added Yippee to my search engine choices in FF. Thx for identifying this resource!

You're right. It homes in on certain topics that seem to cause problems for Google.
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Renegade
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« Reply #85 on: November 20, 2010, 07:29:33 AM »

I really don't understand why there can't be a neutral position. That's what I'm trying to take here. Trying to be objective and stick to facts, evidence, and reason. Like I said, I like what Google provides me, but I'm not blind to its issues nor the simple reality that it is a large corporation and, existing in the US capitalist system, it will naturally tend toward certain negative behaviors.

At the same time I don't want to take the position that big automatically equals bad, or that anyone (or anything) who is successful must be regulated, reduced, resisted, removed for fear of abuse. Excellence should be rewarded, and that's certainly how Google started out. If that's no longer the case, then things should change over time, but I still find Google's search and other services to be pretty much top of the heap. If nobody has solved the spam problem yet, it's hard to be mad at Google alone for that.

- Oshyan

I think you're referring to CodeTRUCKER's comment there.

If you accept the historical premises there, then you are forced to take a position. If you reject it, then you aren't. The historical perspective pretty much mandates a heavy dose of skepticism as an agent rises to power.

The two perspectives/actions (from the historical perspective above) are to "open your eyes" or "bury your head in the sand".

If you reject that historical perspective, it just doesn't matter. Those two perspectives/actions are then irrelevant.

In a purely logical world (well, in a certain logical system -- the scientific method that is to be exact), future events are stochastic, and as such, rejection of the historical perspective is rational.

However, remember that the scientific method is exactly that: a method. It is not a prescription for reality or belief. Those underlying fundamentals, or metaphysics, come prior to the scientific method. Some metaphysics preclude the scientific method, where most people's metaphysical beliefs include the scientific method as part.

This is commonly seen in those astrophysicists and cosmologists that you hear about on the cutting edge of science when they have a strong belief in god/God.

However, you cannot get from the scientific method to the historical perspective as outlined above because it precludes the possibility of repeatability. Instead, you are left with philosophical thought experiments. Don't discount philosophy there. Some of the most important concepts in science come from thought experiments. Perhaps one of the most famous of those being Schrodinger's cat.

Grrr... Getting me all worked up again in logic~! tongue


It is very hard to have things clear cut though.

Even if you accept some perspectives, you can assign a weighting to them for how they affect your belief system, and if other perspectives are prioritized higher or lower.

Imagine you're a Catholic, vegetarian (for ethical reasons), historian planning to invest in a company for your retirement fund. You're unlikely to invest in Monsanto because of your vegetarian ethical stance. Your background in history may have some influence there, while you being Catholic is likely to be irrelevant to the decision.

Outlining these kinds of belief systems is very important for deeper debate into some issues.

Again, imagine you are a devout, strict Buddhist. That alone would likely prevent you from investing in Monsanto.

If you're more moderate, you're less likely to care and more prone to invest in Monsanto.

We find ourselves along sliding scales in belief systems that contribute to our decisions and other beliefs. Sometimes we are forced to abandon beliefs. Sometimes we develop new ones.



And I managed to entirely avoid politics there, though I did manage to sneak in some religion~! tongue (Just messing around~!)
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« Reply #86 on: November 20, 2010, 08:16:05 AM »

I really don't understand why there can't be a neutral position. That's what I'm trying to take here. Trying to be objective and stick to facts, evidence, and reason. Like I said, I like what Google provides me, but I'm not blind to its issues nor the simple reality that it is a large corporation and, existing in the US capitalist system, it will naturally tend toward certain negative behaviors.

At the same time I don't want to take the position that big automatically equals bad, or that anyone (or anything) who is successful must be regulated, reduced, resisted, removed for fear of abuse. Excellence should be rewarded, and that's certainly how Google started out. If that's no longer the case, then things should change over time, but I still find Google's search and other services to be pretty much top of the heap. If nobody has solved the spam problem yet, it's hard to be mad at Google alone for that.

- Oshyan

I think you could exchange 'Google' for multiple corporations in that post JavaJones.
Still have to watch out for the smaller companies as well, in any business.
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« Reply #87 on: November 20, 2010, 11:53:06 AM »


Another example of the erosion of basic freedoms in in how current legislation is on the table to make it illegal for US residents to grow food or use seeds that their gardens produce.

You pretty much need to be brain-dead to not understand that making it illegal for people to grow food is bad. But that is what is happening right now...



I just read the proposed Senate bill and I cannot find any language at all that would forbid private gardens or forbid people to grow their own food. The thought is laughable!

I did notice that the site you linked to does not have any links at all to the bill itself; only to their own rants and the rants of like-minded sites. What is that site - a radical activist gardening site?  Grin

Pure silliness!

Jim
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« Reply #88 on: November 20, 2010, 12:09:15 PM »

Oshyan, you always make good reasonable points.  And I know I am really hard on Google when relatively speaking they are probably one of the best behaving large companies out there.  And I don't think big necessarily means bad, it's just that when you have a giant corporation that goes public, the forces driving them to exploit avenues of maximizing revenue at the cost of ethical compromises become almost unstoppable.  Google may be one of the better companies currently in terms of ethics, but I suppose I get on their case more because they are so incredibly determined to get their hooks into every crevice of the internet and push their own alternatives to almost every service one can imagine.

I guess have a natural resistance and suspicion of any company that is so determined to spreading out into every possible area they can, using their weight, publicity, and ability to simply give away services and lose money on them in order to gain more market share in the short term until the competitors are forced out.

Of course it's not just google.. It feels to me sometimes that the entire internet is working with a business model that looks like this:
  • 1. First raise enough money so that you can afford to give away your service for free and do carpet bombing marketing until you kill the competition,
  • 2. Then change what you are doing so you can profit off of the users once you have captured them in a system that makes it unlikely they will ever leave.

To me, that's a really nasty system, and I feel like it's starting to describe more and more of the internet.  By it's nature it means that anyone who is actually focused on providing a reasonable service for a reasonable fee will lose to the big company with big pockets who can just come in and give away everything for free UNTIL they run the little guy out of business, at which point the hammer has to eventually drop.  And meanwhile in the short term everyone is jumping up and down saying how happy they are that they are getting all this free stuff.

But of course you are right that we need to not fall into this trap of reflexively treating financial success and expansion negatively.  Google does so many things so well, they deserve much of the praise they get, and they have earned much of their success.  I think some of the anti-google sentiment you see growing is sort of a natural result of google continuing to acquire huge dominance in so many different market areas and continuing to get Apple-level fetishistic coverage from the press, which creates this kind of distortion field of reality that makes it hard to judge things neutrally.  When that happens you lose some objectivity, and you end up with camps that are simply brand loyal for no rational reason, and camps that are against the brand just because they think it's not healthy for one company to own so much.
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« Reply #89 on: November 20, 2010, 12:14:03 PM »

The point of such legislation is the 'seeds'.

This is being done to protect the original seeds of food by those who own them.

It's a big subject,
that has a lot of info,
you get hybrids or 'children' of any seeds you buy in a store.
Not the pure original seeds.
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« Reply #90 on: November 20, 2010, 12:35:54 PM »

mouser,

This entire thread in a way sounds like WalMart and the loss of smaller, Mom & Pop stores. I know that WalMart has been blasted - in many cases without valid cause - for the way they come into a market and plan out how they will drive local retail establishments out of business before they start creeping the prices up. Very similar to what you are saying about Google's tactics.

Thank you.

Jim
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« Reply #91 on: November 20, 2010, 12:59:12 PM »

It's really a fascinating exercise to try to map what happens on the internet to what the analogy would look like in terms of "real world" stores.

This has nothing to do specifically with google, but all web services.

Let's try a thought experiment:

Imagine the next time you go out to do some shopping, you go to your favorite shopping mall, and next to your normal grocery store is a new food store, where all the food is high quality and completely free.  Wow! No more paying for food, now that's cool.  While you are picking up your free food you are seeing lots of ads for some new shoe shops down the road offering free shoes for all, and a new bookstore offering the latest books for free.  What a great day this is.. On your way home you pick up some great new shoes and some great new books.  What a terrific day this is turning out to be -- everything is free.

Your shoes have these tiny adverts advertising the new free bookstore and free food store, and vice versa, but the ads are tiny and the stuff is free, so who cares.

The tv has news stories every night about these amazing new stores by brand X where you can get free food, shoes, clothes, cars, etc.  They are all the rage and no one will even consider paying for food or clothes or cars or books anymore -- why would they? that would be like throwing money in the toilet.

This continues for months and you can't help but wonder.. who the hell is paying for all of this free stuff?  But still, why ask too many questions, after all you are getting all this great stuff for free.  All of the other stores go out of business and your neighborhood is now populated only with the free stuff stores from brand X.  They have nice people working in them, nice clean stores, and everything is free.. what's not to love!

Of course it turns out that these companies are losing tons and tons of money on all this free stuff they are giving away.. but they are succeeding in killing off all their competition which doesn't have the money to lose hand over fist day after day, and who don't have the marketing dollars to capture your attention.  In the back of your mind you know that the companies running these stores and losing all this money *MUST* have some kind of plan to start making a profit at some point, or must be making their money from something else you don't see, but you can't quite figure out what the plan is.

That's kind of where we are on the internet... And the answer to the million dollar question about what the "plan" is to profit at the end of it seems to be something along the lines of "it doesn't matter what the plan is, because if you can succeed in capturing such a huge marketshare, you gain these incredible monopolistic-effect benefits that come from the momentum of having such a huge userbase that you can market to and keep in place.  And once you have such a userbase locked in (whether you are facebook, microsoft, google, or whatever), your possibilities for inserting new mechanisms for profiting from them are immense, and the possibility of a competitor stealing away customers is drastically reduced.

---

The idea of lock-in is not new, what's fascinating about google SEARCH is that unlike facebook and microsoft and other google services, it's hard to lock someone in to a search engine, because they can pretty easily switch to using a different search provider.. Which i think helps explain why google is so aggressive about cross-marketing all of their other products and pushing their own browser, to help them ensure they can keep nudging you to their search engine and other services and keep you in the google "network".

I think one way to think about this kind of stuff is that these companies (google, etc) have a very small isolated area of their universe where they make immense profits (or plan to make profits in the future once they have secured their userbase).. and then they build this entire infrastructure of other sites and services and marketing and free stuff in order to herd you into that one isolated area.  And for many of us this kind of indirect system rubs us the wrong way, and the more indirection the more uncomfortable we get.

Regarding this indirection approach to profit making, I find it irritating and frustrating wherever I see it, and the bigger the company the more you seem to see it.  Think about banks and credit card companies, they are always setting up these complicated convoluted systems and plans with unpredictable fees and penalties, and rewards and free toasters and random montly winners, etc.  Just tell me how much it's going to cost to deliver the service i need and let's keep it simple, i don't want to play this game.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2010, 01:19:13 PM by mouser » Logged
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« Reply #92 on: November 20, 2010, 03:13:30 PM »

in the US capitalist system, it will naturally tend toward certain negative behaviors.

At the same time I don't want to take the position that big automatically equals bad, or that anyone (or anything) who is successful must be regulated, reduced, resisted, removed for fear of abuse. Excellence should be rewarded, and that's certainly how Google started out. If that's no longer the case, then things should change over time, but I still find Google's search and other services to be pretty much top of the heap. If nobody has solved the spam problem yet, it's hard to be mad at Google alone for that.

- Oshyan
Quote
I think you could exchange 'Google' for multiple corporations in that post JavaJones.
Still have to watch out for the smaller companies as well, in any business

*Exactly* I'm not arguing against healthy skepticism toward corporate motives, I'm just a little tired of it being so focused on Google who I think are a more reasonable balance (at this point) of power, profit, and public benefit. I'm personally more concerned about Apple because their lock-in is much more real, enforced, and explicit.

As far as Google being driven by profit as a public company, I do really wish they had never gone public! I think they could have achieved similar success without it. They waited a comparatively long time already to do it, and were already successful and profitable by the time of their IPO. Sure they made more money as a result, higher valuation, but in terms of the actual ongoing revenue stream, and their technical potential, it did nothing but yolk them to a bunch of profit-seeking investors with little care for "do no evil" mottos.

mouser, I think parts of your model of Internet success are a somewhat fair assessment and it does bother me as well, but I still see huge innovation, from 0 to 100 miles per hour (i.e. no profit, bootstrapping, to millionaires) in a short time, so there still seems to be room for "the little guy". In my opinion there will always be disruptive technologies, innovative thinkers, and as long as companies aren't actually creating hard lock-in, new innovators have a chance. Even Facebook, "evil" as they are, now has an option to download your entire profile, making it theoretically easy to migrate to a new social network service if you wanted to (and if that service had an importer, which any sensible service will).

But I do have to disagree with a few points. First of all, Google's *lack* of "marketing clobber" is actually a distinct and notable thing. They do very little marketing compared to most of their major competitors - Microsoft, Apple. The only exception is Facebook, which also does minimal marketing. So Google is not clobbering by marketing, they're clobbering by innovating, by actually providing something people want, and - yes - by providing it free and/or cheap. Facebook is doing the same thing. Microsoft and Apple, not so much. Neither has very many free products (though MS is increasing in that of course).

Google also is not that aggressive about product bundling, much less lock-in, particularly as compared to their immediate competitors *including* Facebook. Most of Google's services have gotten popular just because Google merely puts them in front of people's facessince they already have their attention from the search engine use. Is that wrong? I don't really feel it is, but I could see argument that it is, if you see it as similar to MS's bundling of IE with Windows (which I still have a hard time really seeing as "wrong"; MS used other tactics which *were* wrong though). Most of Google's services also have good import/export support, not true of Microsoft, Apple, or Facebook. Google's lock-in is minimal and not well enforced, if at all. Migration is easy. If you're frustrated that competitors haven't succeeded againt Google's popularity, blame human nature, not Google. I don't think they (Google) have come anywhere close to binding people in to using their services.

It's also important to recognize a few things that contradict the reflexive fear about "where does the money come from!?". It's been commonly said that Google is an advertising company (note: distinct from a *marketing* company), because this is how they make the vast majority of their money. And it's important to note that they *do* make money. Here and now. On the ads they already have. So there is not necessarily any coming "bait and switch" nightmare where what was formerly free suddenly costs a million dollars because all major competitors are gone. Money is already being made here, a lot of it, and it's arguable whether they would make more money if they charged. It's an odd concept, making more money from free, but it has a lot of recent (and not so recent) evidence behind it.

It's interesting too that Google's ads continue to be some of the least obtrusive in the industry, despite fierce competition from in-your-face pop-up flash ads and other ad networks that allow graphical banner ads, audio, roll-over games, and more. Yet Google is still the most successful advertising company, taking in tons of profit every year. Their business model is already in place. And you know what? I don't mind it. If you look at a Google search results page and the ads annoy you so much you don't want to use the service, then I guess it doesn't work for you, but for me what they've created is an incredibly good balance of content and advertising, especially when you weigh it against historical context (which I'll get to in a moment). If you'd rather pay for a service like that, I guess that's your choice, but if it's a reality that they can make enough money off the current setup to sustain, even grow, continue to innovate and expand, I'm fine with that.

Now would an entirely advertising supported world work? No, of course not, things that are advertised *must* cost money because there needs to be money coming in somewhere to pay for the ads. But here's where important historical perspective comes in. The Google model is *not new*. Radio and TV have been doing this for decades. Newspapers have been doing it even longer. Advertising-supported business models are *old news*, and they *work*. The only thing that's happening now is that older ad-supported media with higher overhead (newspapers and other print, radio and TV) are going under, while lower overhead, more agile and innovative businesses like Google that also rely on very similar advertising models are thriving. They're taking business away from the "old guard" in the advertising business. But the model has existed for many years before Google, and there's no reason to think it shouldn't work as well for the next 50 years on the Internet, just as it did for radio, TV, print.

So mouser, I disagree with your "thought experiment" as it doesn't reflect what's actually happening online. What you're suggesting is also illegal in the physical goods world, but there's a good reason for that: physical goods *do* have a "natural" price. It costs money to produce something. Try measuring the cost of a Google search result (just 1 search by 1 user), vs. the price of shoe or even just an apple. Can't be done. The apple at least costs 19 cents. The search? Negligible, really. You can only start to measure the cost of it when you get into measuring millions of searches at a time, and then only in electricity, bandwidth, and manpower (to create and maintain the system). Digital is a different world and it works very differently. This is why copyright in the digital age is such a challenge. When someone can "copy" a digital file and share it with someone for essentially zero cost and effort, as compared to the cost of media and effort to even burn a CD (much less copy a tape, god forbid a record), it's a whole new ball game and needs new rules.

Regarding the banks and their giveaways, convoluted systems, and obscure "monetary instruments", I absolutely agree with you, and I don't think Google is doing anything of the kind. I'm definitely not a fan of what most banks have been doing (see: credit crisis), but I consider those to be very much old-world institutes, and certainly to be more worthy of suspicion and disgust than most Internet companies (except Zynga cheesy). In fact, banks and the setup of the financial system are exactly what lets Google get away with the kind of financial trickery that lets them avid some taxes; worse than that, the financial system and its configuration is in some ways *responsible* for Google doing what it does tax-wise, because the system allows for it *only* because large corporations are the biggest lobbyists and they keep such laws around. I can guarantee you Google did not invent that system of accounting, and they didn't create it through lobbying. That was in place long before Google, and larger, older companies are responsible.

So ultimately I don't see the inevitability of a dystopian future, at least not one caused by Internet-driven forces, and I don't see Google as the primary threat in a coming dark age. If anything Google is, generally speaking, working toward more potential good than most companies. Even though they're getting their hands into more and more systems and services, I have yet to see their many interests and projects producing truly negative effects, and I think it's unfair to constrict any entity (human or corporate) with sufficent resources and innovation to one area of function simply out of fear of what they *might* do. It seems to me that it's usually not hard to see malicious activity at work.

I'm more fearful of Apple, or the RIAA/MPAA, or the US government (or any government) for that matter. I'm much more afraid of censorship, surveilance, and disasterous consequences of government policy than I am of Google or any other modern digital/Internet company. Issues like net neutrality, web censorship (see recent legislation being considered in congress), and the continuing expansion of Internet monitoring are all driven by external forces, by governments and old-world media companies, not by any company that is actually successful with the Internet.

Not to mention that, as others have mentioned, companies like Monsanto, Haliburton, and others are doing far scarier and more destructive things. Just because other companies are worse and doing more genuinely "evil" things in real-world (physical) contexts doesn't excuse anything Google might do of course. But still I have a hard time worrying that much about Internet search or other service dominance when the world is being strip-mined, when companies are patenting genetic material and suing farmers for keeping seeds between growing seasons (or for having patented plants growing on their land without contract, which happened because they bordered a neighboring field), or genetically engineering everything from plants with pesticide resistance to fish with faster growth rates (and incredibly high incidence of body malformation), to massive oil spills caused by negligent corporate practices, and on and on.

Now granted, the Internet world is "my" world, the one I've shown the most interest in and ability to succeed within, at least in a business/financial context (I love the outdoors, but I don't plan to make a living off the sweat of my brow). So digital concerns are very real concerns for me. But again I see other much more important threats...

- Oshyan
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mouser
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« Reply #93 on: November 20, 2010, 03:19:27 PM »

All good points.  thumbs up
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« Reply #94 on: November 20, 2010, 10:24:49 PM »

Oshyan makes a good point about Google ads not be intrusive. (And a lot more as well, though I'm pressed for time at the moment.)

I think the problem, as far as I can see it is that you get ads in email or in places where they are looking at your content that they maybe shouldn't be. e.g. You get a confidential email with sensitive material and get an ad about it, like "Need to bury a body? Visit www.buryabody.com today!" smiley Well, that's a stretch, but you get the idea. Google then knows that you need to bury a body, which is something that you'd probably rather them not know. Or any for that matter. cheesy

But I certainly agree that Google is one of the best behaved large corporations around.

Monsanto is nothing short of pure, unmitigated evil. They have senators and high-ranking government officials in their pockets to help them do their bidding (former Monsanto employees/directors/executive/etc.).

Google is NOTHING like them in the least. Google promotes freedom in so many ways. Android is an excellent example of how they are promoting open systems. Gotta give credit where it is due.

Still, I share mouser's reservations over a company dedicated to organizing all the world's information. It just seems dangerous to me.

Dynamite is safe to handle if you're careful, but there's always a risk. Seems like that to me.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #95 on: November 20, 2010, 10:42:36 PM »

Yes, good analogy. Dynamite is one of the world's most useful (and most used) technologies, highly destructive, but also very useful if handled properly. cheesy

- Oshyan
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« Reply #96 on: November 20, 2010, 10:44:55 PM »

For more information see:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046268/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076740/
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« Reply #97 on: November 20, 2010, 10:50:07 PM »


Hehehe~! cheesy
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« Reply #98 on: November 21, 2010, 01:15:33 AM »

Interesting to note is that Dupont developed dynamite and nitroglycerin.
They were labeled warmongers at one time.
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« Reply #99 on: November 21, 2010, 01:24:14 AM »

I think it was Alfred Nobel who invented dynamite. Another fellow invented nitroglycerin though.

Quote
It was synthesized by chemist Ascanio Sobrero in 1847, working under Théophile-Jules Pelouze at the University of Turin.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitroglycerin

Did he work for DuPont?
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