Should We Be Afraid Of Google? – Response 5

If it is too Google to be true…then it probably is.

I wrote that to be funny.  Pretty good, huh?  But I don’t necessarily agree with my pun.

My first dance with Google began in 1999.  A friend recommended the search engine to me and the music has never stopped.  I have not come close to using all 150+ Google domains, but I have used many: Gmail, Analytics, Calender, Froogle (now Google Product Search), Maps, Earth, News, Docs, Translate and several more.  I still use other tools on the internet, but when Google comes out with something new, I will always check it out.  Why?  Because usually their products are well thought out, useful, and free.

Google’s mission: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

And it is all for “Free”.  Yeah, right!  How can one of the world’s top companies turn a profit when everything they provide to the layman is free?  Easy.  “Google generates the majority of its revenue by offering advertisers measurable, cost-effective and highly relevant advertising” (sounds like corporate speak to me Mr. CEO — what does Cluetrain say?) “so that the ads are useful to the people who see them as well as to the advertisers who run them.”  By knowing and understanding consumer’s clickstreams and purchases, Google understands our behaviors.   Behavioral targeting uses information collected on an individual’s web-browsing behavior to select which advertisements to display to that individual.

Battelle‘s The Search says “intent drives search.”  I can’t remember a single time when I sat down to a computer, opened a search engine, and didn’t have a reason — an intent — to type in what I was looking for.  Even when I have closed my eyes and mashed the keyboard, it was to see what I would get out of it.  Maybe I would find a super-secret site out of total luck.  I don’t do this often though, I’ve seen War Games.  Search is evolving and continually trying to improve.  Battelle writes, “At the end of the day, the holy grail of all search engines is to decipher your true intent–what you are looking for, and in what context.  I still don’t always get what I look for, but it sure beats sifting through the card catalog at the library with the hope of finding what your looking for is even there.

Could Google end up owning the internet?  They certainly have a large stake in the Internet, but I don’t think they will OWN it.  I somewhat agree with this statement from DailyFinance: “I would view Google as the barometer for all of the Internet, but not of technology.”  “Google is largely advertising and consumer demand. With search, you need proactive consumers looking and wanting to buy online.”  Plus, the internet has become too much a part of our daily lives in the developed world (and beyond) that it has become a human right in some countries.  An entity who owns the internet could possibly regulate it.  The internet is global; a collection of inter-networked computer systems that spans the globe.  Governments around the world would not let someone own the internet.  I think Larry Page and Sergey Brin respect that, based on principle moreso than their ability to do so, nobody can own the internet.

Alternative search engines matter because

(1)  they can specifically focus on niches that cater to certain groups (Blinxx, IMDB, USA.gov, MapMachine, etc) and

(2) competition is good for the market place; new ideas emerge.  Where would Google be if we had settled on AltaVista, Excite or Yahoo?

I believe in Google’s motto “Don’t Be Evil.”  I think they are a sincere company who are out to change the world…for good.

I’m not afraid.

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