Scripting News for 12/30/2006

Releaselog says that the HD-DVD protection scheme has been cracked.  

NY Times photo of Saddam Hussein just before his death. 

When did Google become evil? 

Matt Cutts, who works at Google, on the “tips” issue.

I stopped believing in Google fairplay when they added a Blog-This feature to their toolbar, and didn’t use open APIs so users could post with any blogging tool, not just Google’s. To be clear, I wouldn’t have objected if they had set the default to work with their tool, as long as users could change a preference to use it with other tools. Long-term it would have made their tool more useful to more people, following the principle of sending people away to get them to come back. In other words, giving people choice would have made it possible for their competitors to recommend their product.

Do you trust Google to be fair to all, or do you think they tilt the table in favor of their own tools and content? Perhaps the two issues are not related?

Is Google something special, or just another tech company?

PS: I chose this headline, deliberately, to be provocative. Maybe you think Google never became evil, and never will.

9 responses to this post.

  1. I find it amazing that anyone finds what Google is doing any surprise at all. Unfortunately fandom has a short memory; or doesn’t care. After all this is the company that supports censorship (Google in china forgotten already?)

    http://www.winextra.com/?p=199

    Reply

  2. I don’t think that the fact that Google creates tools that work with only its services is necessarily evil. After all, IIRC, you can only search using the Google engine with the Google toolbar. It was like that when the toolbar first launched, and nobody threw around accusations about that? Why not only blog with their blogging tools? Allowing users to post to every other blogging tool results in support nightmares for Google staff, as they track down every custom CMS or corner-case blogging system that implements 90% of MetaWeblog, or Blogger, or whatever, just to make sure it’s not the toolbar that’s broken when the posts get mangled. That’s an awful lot to ask from a for-profit company’s free tool.

    “Don’t be evil” means different things to different people. Google China was a decision that was the result of a lot of soul searching amongst the Google decision makers. The truth is, they don’t plan to make money from that decision any time in the near future. They elected to do it so that they could provide as much information to the Chinese people as they could. From the Google perspective, it’s better for the Chinese people to have access to 90% of Google’s vast stores of information, etc, than none at all.

    “Tips” I do find somewhat questionable. While I understand Google’s motivations, there are a lot of issues such a seemingly small feature raises. At the same time, nobody would bat an eye if Microsoft put a similar “tip” on Live pimping MSN Messenger, or Yahoo pimping Flickr. But Google does it and the entire internet community lashes out at them for being evil. I think the very fact that Google listens when people make these emotional, poorly reasoned rants proves that they are NOT evil.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Andrew on December 30, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    As long as one is cognizant of Google’s behavior, I have no problems using their services. When I am unable to determine what they are doing or how they are using my information, I will be more concerned.

    Frankly, I expect Google to pimp their services. As long as there is not exclusive lock-in to their services, I’ll be content. I think the example of the toolbar is a good one to use. Since I know how the Google toolbar works and know more or less how my information is being used, I simply decline to use their product (for that matter I don’t use Yahoo!’s or any competitor’s).

    So far, I still have choice in blogging tools, search engines, and just about any other service Google uses. I tend to pick and choose the best features of several companies.

    Now if I hear something along the lines of Google management pulls a Ken Lay I’d likely drop their products on principle.

    Reply

  4. I don’t really see anything wrong with the Google tips pointing to their own inventory. They are, after all, a company after a profit, and are entitled to maximize their assets.

    The question of the API is a different one — I was also disappointed when they didn’t open that up for adaptation to other blogging platforms. On the other hand, they’re not obligated to do that. If they invest in the development and want to have it be exclusive, that’s their option. It doesn’t make them evil, but it makes them less generous.

    I use a lot of Google’s free applications — GMail, Google Desktop, Google Calendar, etc. It saves me a ton of time and money. They could probably even charge for them and if the charge were reasonable I’d pay and use them still. The fact that they’re free is a bonus, and one that I rely on pretty heavily.

    Still, the fact that they provide free, useful applications and free tools with closed APIs doesn’t make them evil or good. It just makes them a business making business decisions that they view as beneficial to their business and the bottom line.

    Reply

  5. Big news flash: Google never amounted to anything!
    Sell your stocks, or get ready for the crash of 2008, is my word of advice. Here are the three only things they know, can, and have ever contributed to the world:

    1. Selling ads.
    2. Buying other companies and adding ads.
    3. Run massive, fast servers to index other’s content and sell ads presenting it.

    What’s the substance in making money off other people’s content offered for free? Zilch. Nada. Nothing. (So. If open source wins. They’ve got nothing. Kinda like Microsoft.)

    So. How much is that company worth longterm? The servers they’re running it on. Nothing more. How much is that? I’d guess about a 10 million USD. But isn’t Google valued at 130 billion USD? I believe, yes, but ok the brand may be worth 10 billion USD, I admit.

    Reply

  6. Anyway, I’ll be surprised if GOOG doesn’t trade for about 50 on NASDAQ in 2 years, even though it’s currently balancing around 400.

    Reply

  7. Speaking specifically to the “Blog this” button, I think it’s helpful to mention that Google later introduced the ability for anyone to add a custom button for their toolbar:

    http://toolbar.google.com/buttons/apis/howto_guide.html

    For example, on this page

    http://www.google.com/tools/toolbar/buttons/gallery?hl=en

    You can search for [blog post] to find buttons that post to Typepad, del.icio.us, Furl, etc.

    Reply

  8. Google was always evil; that’s why they had to have a marketing campaign to convience everyone they weren’t.

    you wouldn’t say, “do no evil,” unless you were actually doing evil and trying to convience people otherwise; otherwise, why bring it up?

    Reply

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