Alphabet Google: Accused Again by Ivory Towerians

August 31, 2017

I love the Alphabet Google thing. Big outfits paid me a few nickels and dimes to research the company’s technology and methods between 2002 and 2009. (Yep, the Google Trilogy thing.) After seven years of reading really exciting patent documents and Google technical papers, I shifted gears. Hey, cyber intelligence is for me, I decided. Change of pace. No ad technology in sight.

Now the string “Google” is appearing in my feeds about topics unrelated to online search and content processing, eDiscovery for cyber intelligence, and the musty, somewhat overhyped Dark Web.

The Google is “real” news, covered by a “real” newspaper. The most recent “Be woke about Google” write up is “Scholar Says Google Criticism Cost Him Job: ‘People Are Waking Up to Its Power‘.”

I highlighted these statements from the “real” newspaper’s article:

Every second of every day Google processes over 40,000 search queries – that’s about 3.5bn questions a day or 1.2trn a year. But there’s one question that Google apparently doesn’t want answered: is Google a monopoly?

“Everyday I see people waking up to the power of Google, Facebook and Amazon. We have to do something as a people, we have to do something through our government and address the power of these companies.

Google said it would “not be a fair characterization at all”, to blame Google for the decision. “I can confirm that our funding levels for 2017 have NOT changed as a result of NAF’s June post, nor did Eric Schmidt ever threaten to cut off funding because of it,” a spokeswoman said via email.

“Google is a very sophisticate [sic] team of people. They know how to spend their money and wield their influence in ways that usually get them what they want.

Yep, a he-said, she-said.

Several observations:

  1. Google is a bunch of moving parts. Based on my watching the company from Harrod’s Creek, I find it interesting that a concrete cause and effect relationship exists between a Google “action” and a management tactic. Google, like Microsoft, is more like a bunch of kayaks in a lake, not a speedboat racing to a rendezvous.
  2. The Guardian and some other European “real” news outfits are eager to punch Googzilla in the nose. Yep, there are some sore losers because Quaero (remember that effort to nuke the GOOG) flopped. If you relish European search, give Unbubble, Giburu, or Qwant a try. That will work out really well for in depth research.
  3. Google has not been particularly secretive about what it does. I recall telling a couple of Googlers that Google spat out high value information somewhat promiscuously. Guess what? None of the poobahs cared. I am not sure any of those with whom I shared this insight listened.

Net net: Google has been doing the Google thing since the company had to generate revenue. The company looked around, found inspiration in Yahoo’s GoTo/Overture model, and has been chugging along the same path for a couple of decades.

The idea of getting woke may sell newspapers, but it is old news and insight into how little “real” journalists and scholars think about the behaviors of large scale information systems. Goggle chugs along.

What’s the “real story”? For me, more attention paid to inventions which don’t make sense, ineffectual tactics which attempt to thwart Facebook’s social hegemony and Amazon’s retail juggernaut, and generating sustainable revenue from something other than advertising.

But these are not as nifty as a big, semi-chaotic company’s making life tough for an academic “team.”

Collateral damage, maybe?

Stephen E Arnold, August 31, 2017


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