Google, Its Googley Communication, and the Corporate Supported Universities: Time to Pay Up?

February 9, 2022

Have you been looking for an example of Silicon Valley thought processes? I would like to suggest that you look at three “content objects”.

The first  is an announcement in a Google blog (yes, there are many Google blogs and keeping track of them is difficult because the Google search function is not retrieving certain content in my experience. Google information is one subject that tough to locate.)

Here’s the link to an article posted one year ago in February 2021, deep in the heart of Covid:

Here’s the link to the Twitter thread which provides one university professionals view of a Google policy change:

And, finally, here is the link to the Hacker News’ thread:

The main point of the Google post is to explain in Google speak the fact that universities will no longer be able to upload data to Google for free once the threshold of 100 terabytes has been crossed. Google is busy generating as much sustainable revenue as possible because the shadows of the legal eagles are interrupting the work-from-home routines of full time Googlers and the on premises Googlers who want to play volley ball without bird shadows flicking across the courts.

Here’s an example:

We remain committed to providing all institutions around the world with a best-in-class experience, including ample free storage to support quality educational experiences.

But… and the but is:

We will contact impacted institutions directly in the coming weeks to discuss a range of options for getting the storage they need. Large institutions will be provided supplemental storage later this year and all schools can gain additional storage through Education Plus and the Teaching and Learning Upgrade.

Google cares about selling storage. The shift to a for fee model is buried. Here’s the first paragraph of the Googley notice:

During the 15 years we’ve been building tools for educators, we’ve seen the needs of instructors, education leaders and students evolve. We’ve learned that a one-size-fits all approach isn’t what educators need from tools like G Suite for Education. Whether you’re in a rural elementary school, urban university or homeschool setting, our technology and tools should adapt so you can focus on what matters most: teaching and learning. That’s why we’re making a few changes to provide you greater choice and flexibility in selecting the best tools to empower your institution.

Tears come to my eyes when I read this. Google. Really. Does. Care. Chromebooks, free online search, and so much more.

The tweet stream reveals that at least one university information technology type person did not get the email, the phone call from a Googler, or a link in Google search results to a query about price hikes, the speed of data downloads, the possibility of research data loss, and the changes that would make life tough for a researcher relying on Googzilla to hold outputs from a radio telescope. Nope. Here’s one tweet from the interesting thread:

Dan Isbell posted:

“Storage is not being consumed equitably across – nor within – institutions, and school leaders often don’t have the tools they need to manage this.” Dan adds, “So Google will save us from ourselves by capping data. In the name of equity. Storage doesn’t grow on trees but c’mon.”

I think this means that Google, which may be a monopoly type operation, knows when to shift to a pay-to-play model and knows what’s best for education.

The third link points to different takes on this shift. Examples range from alleging that Google is using an MBA acceptable method labeled “bait and switch,” a phrase used by d3nj4l.

Blagie on Hacker News stated:

.. I think I’ve been screwed over enough times by Google now that I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever rely on them for anything where I expect business continuity. I’ve done too much business with Google to ever do business with Google.

A Xoogler, allegedly named, Tuckereman, offered this comment:

I don’t think Google is always the most thoughtful with things like this…

This Xoogler is obviously not Googley; otherwise, he would understand that the systems and methods are specifically designed to produce results after a public announcement is made. As long as sufficient time elapses between the semi cheerful announcement of the policy change and the actual change being implemented, Google is in the clear. I can hear one of the Big Dog Googlers saying: “Senator, thank you for the question. We did announce the policy change one year before implementing that change. And we implemented the change incrementally. We are supportive of education at all levels, and we want to offer programs that improve the quality of education by offering options.”

I don’t have a dog in the fight. After two decades of ignoring the influence of technology centric firms, legislators and regulators are, like Rip Van Winkle, waking up.

For the affected universities, just calculate how many graduates work at Google. Go to Google and explain that more Google support is needed. What if an institution is not one from which Google hires numerous individuals? Well, too bad for the school. For professors, get a job at Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and others at the top of the leader board. Time to add lock in to the administrative vocabulary and delete free lunch?

Stephen E Arnold, February 9, 2022


One Response to “Google, Its Googley Communication, and the Corporate Supported Universities: Time to Pay Up?”

  1. Google: Maximizing Profit via Education Policy? : Stephen E. Arnold @ Beyond Search on February 14th, 2022 5:15 am

    […] A few days ago, I summarized one of the policy changes which benefit Google, put academic researchers in a budget pickle, and change the rules for certain types of university-type research. A year ago, Google wrote a chipper Googley blog post letting those in academia know that the institutions would have to pay up for storage after crossing the 100 terabyte boundary. You can read that Beyond Search essay at this link. […]

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