Green, Green, the Grass is Green

Two stories on search engine companies in the last few weeks, and I have little to write specifically on either. I tend to agree with the ACLU that the issue with the federal subpoena of Google, MSN, and Yahoo doesn’t show just cause, and I want to write on privacy later, in a separate post.

As for Google and China, I have to ask myself if I’m willing to give up on my use of Google–to not use the search engine, to stop using Google maps, to prevent Google from accessing my site, and so on. I also ask myself if I’m willing to give up my iPod, which is manufactured in China; in fact, give up both of my Powerbooks, as well as many other computer-related items in addition to my Belkin surge protectors, and most likely all or part of most of my photographic equipment.

In the end, I’m not willing to go this far for my beliefs, so it’s difficult for me to jump into the sense of outrage others are experiencing. I am, instead, alarmed at how much I am surrounded by “Made in China”; more resigned and saddened at my own culpability in bolstering the power that the Chinese government has over its people–and whether we acknowledge it or not, ourselves–than angry at Google.

Three days ago Google was evil. But then, as always happens, Google issues another beta or releases another new toy, and the pundits stop in mid-indignant outburst with murmurs of ‘Oooo, shiny. New toy.’ Well, well, we say. Perhaps Google isn’t quite so evil after all.

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5 Responses to Green, Green, the Grass is Green

  1. Phil says:

    I think the important point is that Google aren’t not-evil: Big Web 2.0 Company Acts Like Big Plain Ordinary Company Shock. Admittedly, on this score they haven’t been not-evil for some time, but I don’t think it’s (necessarily) wrong to arrive late at the right conclusion.

    Nor do I think it’s necessarily hypocritical to criticise the Chinese government without boycotting Chinese goods – which, as you say, would be a bit of a tall order these days.

  2. Bill says:

    I can’t work up any outrage over Google and China. It’s the preposterousness of the whole “Do no evil” thing in the first place.
    Despite the law treating companies essentialy equivalent to a person, they are not. Companies cannot be good or evil. Products cannot be good or evil. People can be – but even then the black or white distinction doesn’t necessarily exist. Good people do evil things and even nasty people go good things. Otherwise we wouldn’t have to remind people that the “end doesn’t justify the means”.
    Having a company that “does no evil” is a comforting fiction we let them sell to us. They are beholden to “bigger & better” and to shareholders, not to good/evil. They never really were in the first place – they were just able to walk down a path that looked the same.

  3. Su says:

    Something’s been bothering me. More and more often lately, and for obvious reasons, I’m seeing people refer to Google’s (questionable) policy of “Do[ing] no evil.” But um…that’s not their policy, and they’re significantly different concepts.
    When did this happen? Or is it just a lazy quote propagating itself?

  4. Rob says:

    I’m siding with Google on this one.

    South Africa used to have a horrible system in place calld apartheid. Blacks were relegated to homelands and permitted to work in South Africa only under a system of extreme segregation. As much as Nelson Mandela deserves credit for ending apartheid, the system was rotting from within because of American and European companies. Initially, these companies followed along with apartheid. For many reasons (some of which I was VERY peripherally involved in), these companies started treating their black workers like their white workers. It “corrupted” the apartheid system until the system was ripe for collapse.

    I sincerely hope that Google is playing strategy in their decision with the Chinese. Become important to the Chinese until one day, byte by byte, they pry open the filters.

    Sometimes, doing good requires being “shrewd as snakes.”

    Of course, some folks have told me I’m going to hell, and they’re looking forward to gloating from heaven. Perhaps I’m not the person you should be listening to.

  5. I’m also not happy to see Google implementing measures which actually help the chinese govenment to control it’s own people. On the otherhand, Google is not that popular yet in China and they would be very happy to catch Baidu.