The surprisingly delightful musings of a humble Virginian whose satiric paeons to a plausible utopia implicitly shame the cynical zeitgeist of our times, causing it to cry, as 'twere, 'Damn, what was I thinking?' or words to that effect.

September 2014
Google: Organizing the world's data -- in such a way that only Google can profit from it.

Break Up Google

Tossdog, Maize 27, 2014

I recently read an article by an "expert" on copyright law who sternly warned all webmasters and Facebook members that they can't -- repeat: CANNOT -- use any picture whatsoever without permission, lest they incur the wrath of the law -- and that ignorance of said law is no excuse.

Hmm. It seems to me that one of the biggest companies on Earth got where it is today by doing just that. And not only do they not need to get permission -- but, au contraire, the content makers have to ask permission to be excluded from such usage on Google's part -- and it's by no means clear that they're going to get that permission without a court order

I'm sure the "expert" will say that Google's use is somehow different -- but how?

If I create a website, say, about dogs, why shouldn't I be able to display all dog pictures and links on my site -- provided that, like Google, I link to them?

But wait, don't tell me. The law only applies to normal people, right? Not billionaires.

Oh, yeah, sorry, I forgot.


My Washington Post comment on Craig Newman's op-ed piece about the Right to Be Fogotten online:

Newman writes plaintivley that search engines like Google "must also build massive systems to handle removal demands." Awwww! I feel sorry for them. How will they do that with only billions and billions of dollars to work with?

The problem is that Google had already snuck in and monopolized the world's information for FREE long ago before anyone knew -- or cared -- what was going on. Some of us don't think that anyone should have had that monopoly in the first place -- but if they have it, surely that monopoly should come with public responsibilities to the world that created that info in the first place. (See Jason Lanier: "Who Owns the Future?")

Also, Newman's analogy between store directories and Google completely ignores the game-changing instantaneity of the digital world: specifically, the difference between public info that is technically available to anyone (in the analog world by dint of some physical searching on their part) and instantly available and unmissable to anyone (in the digital world by merely typing someone's name in a search engine).

Personally, I think the Washington Post should recuse itself from this entire topic since they are now themselves owned by Big Data in the person of Jeff Bezos, who has monopolized the commercial world as Google has the data world, and who is similarly fighting against paying any social dues or assuming any public responsibilities for that monopolized position.

For Discussion

Some scholars find the author's viewpoint surprising given what they consider to be the general pro-business tenor of his usual declamations. Explain how one can consistently be pro-business while yet hating monopolies, especially one that has actively (so one thinks anyway) buried one's Web pages for almost two decades now under a heap of ad-filled search results -- a company that (in one's respectful opinion, at least) has turned "new" and "novel" into four-letter words, unlike those heady days of the early Alta Vista anything goes Net -- ever since it (Google) went commercial -- which, that was a conflict of interest to begin with (or so one thinks). Just think: the company that stores the world's data begins deciding what gets SEEN according to monetary criteria. Oh, fie! Fie! (Or so one possibly thinks.)


google, monopoly, break up

Copyright 2017, Brian Quass (follow on Twitter)