Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Don't Be Evil"

Of course we all love Google, fine benefactors of this very blog and other numerous useful things on the Internet. They're the good guys of the Internet, up against evildoers such as B$i$g Corporation$ out to make $$$$$ off things which they're more than happy to offer for free, as long as you don't mind the occasional advertisement. Their corporate motto is of course "Don't Be Evil", a motto that gives us all the warm and fuzzies!

It's been questioned a few times of course, like when Google went into China and agreed to forget that Tiananmen Square happened when complying with their Golden Shield project. Then, Sergey Brin (with whom I have 2 degrees of separation) and Eric Schmidt said that it wasn't so much "being evil" that was needed to look at but some sort of "evil scale" where they decided that it'd be better to go in to China than stand on principle and tell them to bugger off unless they opened up.

Recently, the whole controversy over Google Earth and the Google Trucks running around with cameras mounted on the top taking photographs of the street level and poor ordinary citizens conducting their everyday business and whether or not this may indeed violate peoples' privacy. They're already being sued by a couple for taking photographs inside their private driveway, but won't commit to obscuring faces.

Anyway, all this has prompted their vice-president, Marissa Mayer, to talk about being evil recently.


"It really wasn't like an elected, ordained motto," Google's vice-president and 20th employee, Marissa Mayer, said in an interview during her trip to Sydney last week.

"I think that 'Don't Be Evil' is a very easy thing to point at when you see Google doing something that you personally don't like; it's a very easy thing to point out so it does get targeted a lot."


To me it's a bit of a shame that such a powerful standard is being washed out by a company that cared enough to put it in in the first place. Or maybe this is just more a problem of corporate reality making a couple of geeks who came up with a cute algorithm for web searching rethink how to approach the business world.

By the way, Fake Steve Jobs would like you all to know that Marissa has an interesting laugh. Oh yeah, and that it's just that Google's finally realised that "[the motto] was always bullshit, right from the start".

5 comments:

Nick said...

I think Google may have set themselves up on this one. I mean, wow. Way to make a cool motto that people are going to call you on whenever they think that you may be violating their own personal values on everything from privacy rights to treatment of cute ikkle puppies.

I'm intrigued about the violation of privacy that comes from taking a picture of someone's driveway. As I understand it, if a press agent of some kind was to be taking pictures of you, or your driveway, there would be a backlash to calls of privacy in regards to our sacrosanct freedom of the press. And yet for Google to wander around taking pictures seems to be in question. Anyone want to shed some philosophical light on my conundrum?

Catherine said...

Yeah, there's a lot going on about that at the moment, I might write a bit later about it but for now I'm gonna get some work done! :D

Adam said...

I quite like Google's attitude these days. Don't be evil (other people), but when Google do it, its cool, good for the market, users whatever.

This article in the paper today sums it up:
Google warns of Microsoft monopoly risk.

Google billionaire co-founder Larry Page has criticised a potential Microsoft takeover of Yahoo, saying it would concentrate too much power in the online communications market, stifling innovation and curbing competition.

But he discounted the idea that an advertising deal between Google and Yahoo - one the two companies are now exploring - would present any potential antitrust problems.


Nice.

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