View Full Version : Google: Philosophy, Producs and Threats

Derek Djons
February 15th, 2006, 10:33 PM
Worldwide on the Internet, television and other mediums Google is being criticized more often. If it was criticized because of an bad product this wouldn't be that spectacular. The company is under attack because of it's current mission goals and forthcoming products.

How come people praised Google for being a wonderful (all-round) search engine first and now a lot of people consider it being a 'evil' company. What has happened and do we really believe the critics or Google.

In history a lot of major breakthroughs were praised at first, to be condemned as bad or fake later. Example's of this are around you every day. The most recent technology breakthrough is cloning. A lot of people and scientist saw chances to save patients lives and clone important vital body parts with which patients could be cured. But look at it now. A lot of people are frightened of it. These people believe the cloning technology can and will be used while ignoring ethical reasons. Also in the past there are a lot of examples. Take the scientist Galileo. He found out that it's not the earth which is the center of the universe and it was not the sun which was turning around the earth. People where amazed and finally had logical proof of it. But very quickly the church accused Galileo of being a traitor to his country and religion.

Are we not just freighted by Google because the company has such huge ideals?

What is Google's mission statement
I think we all know Google's mission statement:

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

This is an very abstract mission statement. It does not includes actual hints or info on how this mission statement will be pursued. Weird enough this already creates some confusion.

What is '(all) information'. To understand this we have to know more about the word 'information in general:

Information as a concept bears a diversity of meanings, from everyday usage to technical settings. Generally speaking, the concept of information is closely related to notions of communication, constraint, control, data, form, instruction, knowledge, meaning, mental stimulus, pattern, perception, and representation.
It seems clear that all of the ideas below (and others) could be integrated into a single science. A combination of Physics, Psychology and Computer Science. One which recognizes that Information is not matter nor is it energy, yet it is perhaps more important than either when it comes to understanding any aspect of the universe. If a unified definition of Information could be arrived at then perhaps so could a General Theory. Then questions such as "Where are the laws of the Universe?" could be addressed.
Many people speak about the Information Age as the advent of the Knowledge Age or knowledge society, the information society, and information technologies, and even though information science and computer science are often in the spotlight, the word "information" is often used without careful consideration of the various meanings it has acquired.
Source: Wikipedia

This explains why Google is suddenly popping up everywhere. Google is not only trying to create the best search engine for websites. The company is also is trying to improve the way people can receive information. Gmail is an example of this. So has Google started a 'world domination tour' or are we mixing up the facts. About this I'm very curious and I would like to hear your opinion. Below here you can read mine.

Are their products matching the mission statement
As mentioned above, I believe Google's vision about information is far more wider than people think of. There is a large group which claims Google has started a campaign which will fill it's pockets with a lot of money while nobody knows what Google's plans are with all user data. I think it important to analyze or at least (in my case) think about logical reasons why Google needs all that information from a user.

Google (search engine):
By far the most known product which has been made by Google. It has earned a good reputation among people worldwide. There are maybe other search engine which are better at some points as Google, but it still remains the best 'overall' search engine.

If we compare this product with Google's mission statement, we don't really have to go in depth to understand it's the first products which suits the mission statement. Also as expected from every normal search engine you can use it without logging in, register and thus handing over personal information. But it is possible for a user to maintain a custom Google page with information you like on it. Part of this information (you hand over) is being used to fine-tune automated features. These features can be related to things you like but also to regional information and news.

Gmail (email client):
Again a very known product among mankind. Gmail is product which build a huge reputation within a short time. Not very shocking since the company was handing out 1Gb accounts for free. And again there was this 'user information' thing. In order to use Gmail, users had to fill in (personal) information. In return for an 1Gb account you would only see customized advertisements.

Google Earth:
The name of this product immediately states it's purpose. Search maps, directions, hotels, restaurants or whatever you want the same way as you do on Google. From this point Google makes it clear for me that the companies view about information is much greater as thought before. The product is available for free and there are two shareware versions available which offer more (advanced) options such as GPS and research possibilities. So to be as objective as possible, we are dealing again with an tool which makes information (though in an other form as expected from Google) available.

Google Pack Screensaver:
This is most definitely an product which doesn't pursues the goals of Google. For some reasons (this isn't the first piece of software) Google has decided to interfere with the users personal computer and the way media, information and other things are being displayed, searched for and maintained.

Picasa (photo management and editing):
Certainly not an star invention but again I find this program fitting in Google's mission statement. The software lets you find your photo's quickly and manage them more accurately. Though the programs is also capable of editing your photo's I think these are features only meant to make the product more popular.

For some people the word information primarily means text, websites, results. But that's certainly not the (true dictionary) definition of the word. Information can be anything for a person. Sound, images, feeling and more. Compared to Google Pack Screensaver which is just for fun and desktop enhancement Picasa in my eyes can truly provide a person with the information he wants.

Google Desktop (Search tools for the personal computer):
Again, this product is in my eyes a child of Google's mission statement. Only this time Google has moved from online to your local computer. Google Desktop was (one of) the first product which ended up on your computer made by the company.

Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer (Quick Search & more):
Again an product which addresses Google's mission statement like it should.

So the line up isn't that odd actually know we know what information is and what the most of Google's products are about. Just recently Google has introduced GoogleTalk which made this discussions about Google's mission statement, their products and user information lit up.

Critical opinions
The two common accusations are that Google is taking out competitors and that the users privacy is in danger. When looking at Google's plans and these accusations it's wise to analyze them in the correct relation.

A lot of people in my environment say that Google is making application they shouldn't make. Why aren't they sticking to their search engine and leave other applications to other companies / developers. About the privacy the people in my environment hardly speak. It isn't an issue for them and (apparently) they don't see Google therefore as an threat to their privacy.

On the Internet it's more the other way around. Everywhere these days blogs, tech-sites and columns are filled about Google's 'maybe' evil plans for the future and the risks people would be facing.

Could it all be just panic. What has Google done wrong in the past that people are now becoming frightened by the company. For the above mentioned reasons regarding the mission statement and products I personally don't see any dark clouds hanging above Google.

What if Google is really planning on releasing a cube in the future. This cube would be installed with an (Debian / Ubuntu based version) of Linux. On this computer it would be possible to really simple access your information and data (two different things!) using simple authentication methods and tools. This way Google can use it's current database of information (privacy sensitive or not) in order to make information available in a way only Google can at the moment. Google might have totally other plans and products / services in mind. But personally I can't believe Google is going to waste so much years of technical research and implementations. Needles to say what would happen with the reputation and further career of Google and Google's top people.

I think it's largely all panic. There have been numerous incidents with other developers and companies. Microsoft is no doubt one of them. Up till now most (I can't say or know about all) have never played dice with the privacy of their customers / users. So there must be a line which resembles what can be technically done with this acquired information and what usually happens in real life. And in real life these companies are trustworthy.

Though Google's mission statement is transparent, it's course isn't. But I really doubt that Google will violate the privacy of it's users and ruin it's name over profit and fame on the evil way. Especially or at least I must say for the upcoming twenty years. Upstanding Internet experts, columnists and other writers firmly agree that Google is threatening Microsoft more and more because it's technology and products. I can only see Google grabbing this chance and earn some legacy credits for itself.

February 16th, 2006, 12:12 AM
'violating privacy' is a term open for many many many different interpretations.

Small, present time example: I may very well choose to not have google sample every word I type for keywords and target specific ads for me. I may very well find this an intolerable invasion of privacy. Yet this is common practice for Google (and many other companies alike by the way)

So when you say
But I really doubt that Google will violate the privacy of it's users and ruin it's name over profit and fame on the evil way. Especially or at least I must say for the upcoming twenty years.
I must assume you do not find the above example an invasion of privacy.
This is of course your right, but not necessarily the concensus in say, 20 years from now.

Upstanding Internet experts, columnists and other writers firmly agree that Google is threatening Microsoft more and more because it's technology and products. I can only see Google grabbing this chance and earn some legacy credits for itself.
Microsoft nowadays is on a course that will grow more and more towards tracing customers actions. DRM is a prime example of this. If, in your opinion, Google is out to beat Microsoft on their own turf..... I think there is a fair chance that they may choose to do so in a similar style.

Bottom line on Googles mission statement: information is power. To know what people search for, to know what 'trends in thinking' if you like, are, to know what may turn out to be the next hype, albeit in music, in clothing or in politics for example, in short to have a way of finding patterns in human behaviour and more importantly an insight into the collective human mind, may put one in a very privileged, very powerful and very dangerous place. the ability to control the minds of the masses is indeed a powerful one, and one we should fear imho.

There is no telling where Google will go, and it is precisely that, that feeds the current worries. There is no guarantee that in twenty years from today, google will not have transformed in something very different from what it started out as.
The first politically-based concession has already been done (China), Google is no longer an idea, a graduation project or a toy. Google is a multinational corporation, looking to do what multinational corporations do: expand.
I do not share your optimistic projections of 'Google in 20 years'. Like every other big company I've ever dealt with, it too will likely become too large for it's own good, led by people who care more for their own greed than the common good, and stringing along a couple of (inter)national political schemes... perhaps even sponsoring an election candidate or two.....

February 16th, 2006, 12:16 AM
Derek Djons, I have now become convinced you like being the devil's advocate.

At anyrate, google's mission: ads everywhere. The more services you use from them, the more targeted, and well place the ads will be.

February 16th, 2006, 12:22 AM
Rumor has it Google is going to roll out a version of Picasa for Linux, yea !!!

February 16th, 2006, 05:18 AM
If google compromises with the Chinese Government, what are the chances that google compromises with American government ie the CIA?

Matt Cutts, a key Google engineer, used to work for the National Security Agency - http://www.google-watch.org/jobad.html

February 16th, 2006, 05:26 AM
If google compromises with the Chinese Government, what are the chances that google compromises with American government ie the CIA?
- http://www.google-watch.org/jobad.html

That actually is a good question and I would like to know the answer to it.

Derek Djons
February 16th, 2006, 09:59 AM
Derek Djons, I have now become convinced you like being the devil's advocate.

At anyrate, google's mission: ads everywhere. The more services you use from them, the more targeted, and well place the ads will be.

I can remember seeing that movie once, but I'm not representing the devil :) Just like going more after scenario's and theories.

Bob Gould
April 15th, 2006, 02:40 AM
First post to the forum.

I was especially attracted to Ubuntu because [quote] "Ubuntu" is an ancient African word, meaning "humanity to others". Ubuntu also means "I am what I am because of who we all are". The Ubuntu Linux distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world. [unquote]

Given Google's recent collusion with the Chinese government I find it very disconcerting to discover that many within the Ubuntu community are quite willing to quickly forget "humanity to others" in return for a few dollars to develop software.

As for alternatives to Google there are many available.




http://icerocket.com - "We don't censor anything" -- Blake Rhodes of IceRocket

http://clusty.com - "We have no dealings with China" -- Raul Valdes-Perez, CEO





http://blinkx.tv - This is a search engine for video content.

http://digg.com - This is a search engine for technology information and news.


http://wikipedia.org - This is a searchable online encyclopedia that is banned by the Chinese government.














For info on what google & Yahoo! are doing see Reporters Without Borders http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=20