"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Global Id

Interesting piece about Google in London Review of Books.

12 comments:

john said...

Google self-censoring itself in China is big news, I think. I was a bit surprised they've gone in for it, given the whole "don't be evil" thing but there you go.

Colin said...

They're a plc (or whatever the US equivalent is) - their duty is now to their shareholders' profits.

Tom said...

Yes, I read the thing in LRB - John Lanchester is a good writer. Interesting to see someone think critically about the wider implications of Google, instead of the usual plaudits and chat about how amazing it is. Disappointed with the China censorship, particularly after they rebuffed the spying US government the other week. But as Colin says, corporations are compelled to adhere to the bottom-line, however brutal that makes them.

phaemon said...

Regarding China they had the choice of not providing those links, or not doing business there at all. Other American companies do business with China, following Chinese law, and it's seen as bringing China into the 21st Century, making them more open, etc, etc. Dunno if that's right or wrong.

Anyway, speaking of Google, I've noticed that all the adsense ads are for blog stuff. Is there any way to have them reflect what's actually being posted, perhaps by moving them to a different part of the page? On forums and stuff they reflect what's being posted, and so are of more interest I think...

Tom said...

Some good points from Seamus. Google isn't really doing anything different from any other company that's going over there, but they seem to be getting much more flak for it. As for our ads, I was actually going to say the same thing: all of them are for blog software etc. Would be nice to get some more interesting adverts - I'm bored of just clicking onto sites about blogs, however much it's earning us.

On the LRB thing, there's a follow-up letter from John Lanchester in this week's issue, in which he says much what we've just said, ie: we shouldn't be surprised by Google putting profits before ethics since they are, after all, a commercial company.

john said...

I suppose the action of Google is a reflection on consumers in the Western world. We could all boycott those firms of whose activities we purport to disapprove. However by and large we don't. (I always try and buy Maxwell House though).

Re the Google ads - as I understand it their subject matter is linked to what's being written about in the blog. Didn't we get a spate of boxing related ads a couple of months back? I suspect that the typical brevity of our headline posts doesn't give google's algorithms enough of a theme to pick up on and therefore we get ads on the theme of blogging in general. Having said all this I'll try and have a check through on how it all works this weekend if I get time.

phaemon said...

Google's own argument was that if they didn't censor they would have been removed and the Chinese people would have been deprived of their search service. It would have had no effect on the Chinese government since they don't care about Google anyway.

Re the ads: maybe you could try them on the left hand side of the screen for a bit. It's quite desolate there :-)

phaemon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
phaemon said...

I forgot to say: I don't want to sound too apologetic for the though...I'm not *entirely* convinced by what they're saying. The hypocrisy of American Senators saying they'd put "money before ideals" was a bit too much though!

previous comment was this, but removed for terrible spelling

john said...

um, can't do adds on the RHS without going to a different template, could do them at the top of the page tho' will maybe do this this weekend.

john said...

Correction, above post should have read

um, can't do adds on the LHS without going to a different template, could do them at the top of the page tho' will maybe do this this weekend.

[my emphasis]

Colin said...

John Lanchester's LRB update can be read here.