Google Deflections: After 20 Years of Gnawing, Are Rationalizations Long in the Tooth?

January 15, 2021

Two items snagged my limited attention this morning (January 15, 2021). The first is the write up called “Google Completes Fitbit Acquisition.” The mom-and-pop online ad business has purchased Fitbit. Some government authorities have not officially said, “Hey, okay, Google.” But the mom-and-pop shop has quite a bit of work to do. The digital calendars are brimming with important meetings. I did note this statement in the mom-and-pop shop’s blog post:

This deal has always been about devices, not data…

Yep, I think I have heard this explanation before. But perhaps I am misremembering comments made to me by a no-departed Googler. Yep, Google wants to do devices. Look at the wood the company put behind the Loon balloon. That’s a heck of a device. Oh, there is the “new” Google mobile device. Another horsehide ball knocked aloft.

I also spotted this write up a few minutes ago: “Google Throwing Its Weight Around by Burying Links to Some Commercial News Sites, Experts Say.” Some discontents in Australia apparently believe that the mom-and-pop online information service is discriminating. I circled this passage:

Google has decided to hide some Australian news sites from its search results, in a move that is being interpreted as a response to the Australian Government attempting to make the tech giant pay for original news content.

Google’s ever efficient customer service professionals named A Google Spokesperson allegedly said:

The search algorithm tweak affects a small percentage of users and buries links to some commercial news sites …Every year we conduct tens of thousands of experiments in Google Search…”

Two explanations to the mere country with sheep and coal and a darned good law enforcement apparatus. Maybe I should say, “Excellent enforcement?” Yep, excellent.

Let’s step back. Here are three rationales:

  • We don’t care about data. We care about devices.
  • We make a change only a teeny weensy percentage of our users are affected.
  • We do a lot of testing, and maybe — just maybe — a test affects a user’s experience.

These rationalizations are intended to sound oh-so reasonable. But the one I was disappointed to note excluded from these two articles is the bigly one:

It is easier to say “sorry” than ask for permission.

What else does a mom-and-pop shop need to do to stay in business? Formulate you own answer, gentle reader.

I can’t answer. The dog ate my homework. That excuse is long in the tooth.

Stephen E Arnold, January 15, 2021

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