For years I’ve pointed out that Google consistently acts to disintermediate web publishers. For years I’ve noted how Google, while saying that we are all friends, reliably “improves” Google’s services in ways which force webmasters to eliminate their own interest in the dissemination of what they publish. The “nickels from Google” may add up to tens of thousands of dollars for some publishers, when you aggregate all those hard-earned page views and ad clicks, but the profits are not sufficient to support publishing. They support Google, and they support aggressive innovators (right now). Google has us all in the cross hairs. We are the future profit sources for Google.
One tactic of any PR machine is to engage the enemy in conversation. Debate even. It keeps everyone busy. There is so much to talk about… microformats being one huge current trend supported by Google, which serves to quite effectively disintermediate publishers. “Please wrap your content into neat little tags, so we can easily parse it” asks Google. The nickels will come soon enough.. rewards for compliance. And the
scammers innovators will go “all in” on the new opportunities, and we’ll see pictures on DailyBooth of big fat smiles with big fat Google checks, and pictures of Yachts named “Google Me” and Maserati’s and Bentley’s and bling bling bling buy my program and learn how you, too can profit from Google!
If I start debating these things, I’ll be distracted. I won’t be able to also see the forest… to see the impending damage on the horizon. Everyone is amazed at Google’s progress. Meanwhile, the real issues of economic stability and industry infrastructure are secondary to the awe with which technology (led by Google) decimates our work environments. Google’s amazing. Our modern civilization is only hundreds of years old, but in that past if any “company” had ever worked to wipe out industries and destroy people’s livelihoods, they would have faced mobs with pitchforks. People would have been scared, politicians motivated, and war machines activated. Of course they probably would have been overrun and decimated by a beast as powerful as Google, but they would not have been blind to their fate as we seem to be today.
It’s easy to write an article about how amazing or how ominous Google is. It’s hard to figure out just how bad this will get for all of us non-Googlers (i.e. people who don’t work for Google). Of course Google (the machine) would love us to keep busy like that.
Everytime someone from Google speaks, we need to listen carefully. Eric Schmidt’s latest comments reported by TechCrunch include this little gem. He was asked to look 10 years out, and what the future Google looks like. He answers that Google will determine the best, most authoritative site for a given question, read it, and summarize it back to the Google user as “the answer”:
“So I don’t know how to characterize the next 10 years except to say that we’ll get to the point - the long-term goal is to be able to give you one answer, which is exactly the right answer over time…what I’d like to do is to get to the point where we could read his site [the definitive authority on a particular searched query] and then summarize what it says, and answer the question”
I cut out some because the answers were reported almost verbatum, with roundabout thoughts and an example in the middle. Read it for yourself if you like.
Eric Schmidt, the guy who thinks Wikipedia is the greatest gift to mankind ever created by man, has web publishers (and domain owners) in his cross hairs. If Google succeeds, no one needs a domain name and no one needs to create a brand. They just need to submit to Google, and then, perhaps if Google has not completely satisfied the users with “the answer”, provide a way to be contacted or a server IP for a web site for further reading (perhaps through the Google Profile conduit).
Eric Schmidt is a technologist, and geeks (relatively speaking) are poorly schooled in political and social aspects of reality. But is he really clueless? He’s CEO of one of the world’s most powerful companies. . I can’t believe he’s dumb enough to not think through the eventual outcome of his aggressive behavior… that he hasn’t considered that this is not a technological world, but a world of people. That people need to get along and compromise, and that we have been lucky enough to evolve a fragile economy based on our human interactions (not computer transactions) with less than the possible amount of war waging. Some call that “civilization”.
Civilization requires a ton of work, and most of that work is “talking”. History shows us that failure of communications, refusal to talk, failure of educataion with respect to tolerance and cultural differences, and strong arm approaches that devalue human interaction and force a will upon others, lead to unreasonable behavior (terrorism, war, disobedience, etc). Does Eric Schmidt think the world is ready for one global economy and culture? Does he think the masses are so educated and appreciative of knowledge that they will choose one great website for answers at a cost of say food for their families or stable employment?
Ten years out is 2019. Many of you will be “mid career” by then. Between now and then, are you prepared for a Google that collects, analyzes, and summarizes what you publish, using your work to serve 80% of the world’s Internet users without your involvement? Think about it. Just how much are you giving away by allowing Google to own the Internet?