FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, July 11, 2005

Google as Villain

Is Google evil? Adam Penenberg of Wired seems to think so. In a June 23 column, he describes the ubiquitous search engine as “a collective Rorschach test, which shapes our worldview and affects who we are and what we will become.”

The technology community is prone to bouts of paranoia in which any entity that gets "too big" is automatically judged to be bad. Perhaps that's because many of us techies, bristling under the "nerd" stereotype, naturally champion the underdog. Nothing wrong with that, but that doesn't mean that bigger is badder. Plus, let's not forget the ways in which Google empowers the "little" researcher, webmaster or blogger, or how it poses a healthy challenge to that other "evil empire," Microsoft.

Not to say that Penenberg doesn't make any valid points. He bring up legitimate concerns about how Google might behave as it evolves:

Will [Google] cave every time the government comes bearing a subpoena? Can it be trusted to safeguard our personal information? All Google will promise is that it "will provide notice before any personally identifying information is transferred and becomes subject to a different privacy policy."

The Technology Liberation Front has an artful deconstruction of Penenberg's article here.