Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 4th Apr 2012 22:22 UTC
Google Interesting, if not inherently flawed, article by Farhad Manjoo. "Honan might be right that Google has violated its own definition of evil, but doesn't it matter that every one of its rivals also routinely violates Google's definition of evil?" I say flawed, because I value promises more than anything. Google has done things recently that break their initial promise. That sucks - there's no way around it. I do love Gruber's take, though: "It's not that Google is evil. It's that they're hypocrites. That's the difference between Google and its competitors." In other words, it's perfectly fine to be an evil scumbag company, as long as you're not claiming you're not. That's a rather... Warped view on morality.
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RE: Thom, are you evil?
by galvanash on Thu 5th Apr 2012 02:20 UTC in reply to "Thom, are you evil?"
galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

No, they aren't perfect, but it would be rather hard to not (for example) be a search engine company dependent on advertising and not somehow violate people's privacy.


Violating someone's privacy without consent is generally not appreciated - i.e. it pisses people off. I'm not talking about illegal or immoral (although both of those can apply depending on circumstances), just saying is that I think what the general public wants is to simply know how their data is being used, and the ability to opt out if they don't like it.

They want this process to be completely transparent - but that is frankly not a realistic goal. No one wants to spend almost all their time clicking on "I agree" buttons explaing how their data is used every time they perform an online actively that might result in someone using that information in ever changing ways. Their choices would be constantly invalidated by technology changes, policy changes, etc. etc. So what we have is the sort of "blanket" acknowledgements and opt out that Google provides - and those tend to result in occasional surprises.

I think Google for the most part (at least more than most companies in their industry) seems to try facilitate customer information use as transparently as is practical. It isn't perfect, because frankly no matter how transparent you make it is is complicated and some people, at least some of the time, will end up being surprised by how their data/demographics is being used (and get pissed off).

Google has done some great things for open source. Financing Mozilla and Chrome, licensing free codecs via Youtube, Android, the Summer of Code, their support for open standards, etc.


I try not take those kind of things into account - i.e. acts of "good". They financed Mozilla out of self interest. They developed Chrome out of self interest. Webm - self interest. Open Source - self interest. Etc. etc. Companies don't do things that are against their self interest...

That said - I do appreciate that they rarely seem to do things purely out of self interest. Their entire business model is about helping others to one degree or another - they are a company that provides services and products primarily to help businesses. They try to figure out business models that allow them to profit from the business world by providing services to the general public at little or no cost. They seem willing and eager to work with other companies (or open source projects) to achieve their goals. I wouldn't say they do no evil, but they sure as hell seem to try and avoid it more than most...

Reply Parent Score: 5

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

I'd make two comment:

People want to know how there information is being used and have the ability to "opt in" to these systems.

Opt Out was chosen to maximize the information Google collects and effort the user goes through to be excluded from that data collection. It is to Google's benefit by default. An Opt In system would be proper if the user was the concern. User's are not tricked into giving up data (obscured opt-out extra steps) but Google only gets data from users who expressly allow it.

As long as they operate opt-out survelance systems...


I'd also suggest reconsidering self-interest related to FOSS. All FOSS is developed out of self interst. Microsoft has contributed code to the kernel so it runs better inside MS virtualization and that's perfectly fine; everyone contributes out of self interest. Google premotes FOSS development due to self interst; say it isn't so. The important part to consider is that they are contributing at all and we have the resulting programs because of the self interest of all the developers who contributed to the project.

Reply Parent Score: 2