Posts Tagged ‘John Battelle’s “The Search”’

John Battelle’s The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed our Culture really opened my eyes to Google as a business enterprise. I feel a little silly and a lot naïve, but I had really always thought of Google as the world’s information providing service to the world rather than a business with a bottom line. I have grown up making sense of the web throuh “Googling.” I am reliant on this search engine to the degree that I automatically type www.google.com into my internet browser’s address upon opening the internet, even if I am just using it to navigate to a familiar webpage.  Sure, I was aware that the Google model relied on making money through AdWords and AdSense, but I had never thought of Google solely as a money-making endeavor. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the company.

Google’s “promise” is plausible: to organize the world’s information and make it universally acceptable and useful.” But did you know that the “effective tool” keeps changing? I’m not convinced that Google algorithms change overnight to benefit the public, but I am certain that changes like the Florida update help Google’s bottom line. In Chapter 7, Battelle tells the story of online small business entrepreneurs who were profiting from Google search results in an honest way. Without warning or prior explanation, Google introduced a new algorithm that turned search results upside-down and forced these small businesses to buy AdWords to move back up the search ladder.

Did you know that the “acceptable bargain,” or the rules of Google, might not be so transparent? Google initially agreed to an extremely low level of censorship in China so that it could enter the valuable market. This decision blatantly broke Google’s original promise. Google rationalized this compromise by saying that it would ultimately be more of a disservice to the Chinese people to live without Google altogether. Four years later, Google has suddenly decided that censorship is not in line with its company’s values, and it plans on pulling out of China after a series of security breaches. Google doesn’t explain how the security breaches have changed their opinions on censorship, but apparently they have. Or is this just a way for Google to rebuild integrity while abandoning an investment gone-bad?  While I do not personally have anything to hide, I’m not as comfortable with Google’s influence on my life and possession of my personal information now that I recognize what appear to be Google’s ulterior (or at least conflicting) motives.

On a final note, my internet is working fine, but my Google has suddenly stopped working as I write this post. Is Big Brother watching? No, I don’t think so. I’m not afraid of Google, but I’m glad that I’m now aware (thanks to Battelle) of the company’s questionable integrity.

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