Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The New Evil Empire

Seeking to dominate every aspect of computing, furthering their own ambitions at the price of freedom of speech, creating multibillionaires.

No, it's not Microsoft but Google. I think they do some things very well, their search engine sort of works, and their maps are very cool, but I'll take Yahoo for most other things. That doesn't stop Goggle from adding a dizzying list of products behind the modest 'more..' button on its home page.

The Google Desktop search tool puts Microsoft's search capabilities within both Windows and Outlook to shame, but it's bloatwear - the index hogs a huge amount of hard drive space and slows down your PC something chronic as it reindexes.

These days I'm also very conscious that it might be telling Google more than I want to reveal about myself.

But my bugbear with Google isn't with technology. It's much more fundamental than that. I have a real problem with their 'do no evil' mission statement. Because they do evil.

It was Bill Clinton who said that a man's ambition should be to live a long, happy and healthy life and ensure that as many other people as possible did likewise (paraphrased I'm sure from a greater thinker than the former US President).

And this is the crux of the problem. Google now have to keep shareholders (with the founders as the two biggest shareholders) happy at the expense of everyone else. Therefore they readily agreed to censor their Chinese service.

Censorship can often be a good thing; voices that seek to destroy the system that gives them freedom of speech are an anathema to me. But in this case, Google is censoring individuals and websites who are attempting to bring equality and democracy to the Animal Farm society of modern day mainland China.

Just a Bill gates is giving away much of his wealth to create good around the world, welcome to the new Evil Empire.

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