11 December 2009

Rough week for Google (great week for Evil?)

Google, the company whose motto is "Don't Be Evil", has had a rough week or so. First, they released Vevo, a crippled, redundant, and non-user friendly music video site -- the only group that might like Vevo is the oligopoly of commerical copyright holders and the RIAA. Let's put it this way: there's not much to be found there, and what there is can all be found on YouTube anyway. And as I write this, at 2147 EST, the service cannot be reached. Great stuff, guys.

Second, a rather minor point but since I'm piling on what the heck, I love Google Chrome but I hate the current extensions. They call the extensions "beta" but in this particular case they actually mean it! Most of them seem to be broken and/or useless. Too bad, a working ad block tool is the one thing missing from their beautiful, minimalist, speedy browser.

Finally, we have their CEO, Eric Schmidt. Eric, Eric, Eric. For those who haven't heard, this week he made a very revealing and very stupid statement regarding privacy. He said,  "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place,". Well, Eric. Can I call you Eric? Or is that too, um, personal? I don't want you to know what time I went to the crapper. Does that mean I shouldn't be doing it in the first place? I don't want you taking pictures of my children in the school locker room. Does that mean they shouldn't go to school in the first place? I don't want you to know my credit card number, doofus, does that mean I shouldn't have a credit card? Things that are private, things that are personal, things that are secret - these are three different categories with complex overlaps.

I'm not building a straw man here, I warn you. I expect the argument that 'he was just referring to what you do online'. That distinction is useful to a company like Google but in fact is completely irrelevant. Privacy is privacy on-line or off. If the head of the only search company that matters, the company that sends vehicles down our streets to take pictures of our homes and workplaces, the company that uses satellite photography to show us our neighborhoods and schools, the company that wants to put its OS onto our billions of mobile devices -- if the head of that company doesn't respect our privacy, then maybe they've grown beyond their "Don't Be Evil" infancy into something less...Not Evil.

Which sucks, I kinda like their software.