When
· Naughties
· · 2004
· · · September
· · · · 28 (3 entries)

Feedreading News Flurry · Lots of ac­tion this week in the syndication-feed tech­nol­o­gy space: NetNewsWire, Blog­li­nes, Atom, J2ME, dig it. I tried to squeeze it in­to a para­graph but it just sprawled and sprawled, so you’ll have come to on­go­ing for the full dump. [Up­date: Blog­lines is be­ing bad.] ...
 
Helping Them Lie · Google is get­ting some well-deserved flak for emas­cu­lat­ing the Chi­nese ver­sion of Google News by sup­press­ing head­lines that point at things the gov­ern­ment of Chi­na doesn’t want its cit­i­zens to read. I didn’t think it worth rant­ing about, but this pa­thet­ic apolo­gia on the Google blog adds in­sult to in­jury. Let’s be clear here: the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is try­ing to cre­ate the im­pres­sion that it’s nor­mal and ac­cept­able for a large, well-educated, economically-growing mod­ern na­tion to have an au­thor­i­tar­i­an one-party sys­tem of gov­ern­men­t. They’re not sub­tle, they sim­ply for­bid news that con­tra­dicts their de­sired im­pres­sion. By sup­press­ing the head­lines that point at for­bid­den ma­te­ri­al, Google is ac­tive­ly aid­ing and abet­ting the Chi­nese government’s mar­ket­ing pro­gram. And please, please, can we lose the nau­se­at­ing twad­dle about how it’s OK to sup­press the truth be­cause it’s “less than two per­cent of Chi­nese news sources”? What do you bloody well ex­pect when the gov­ern­ment of Chi­na is ac­tive­ly en­gaged in sup­press­ing such news? The rea­son why that num­ber is low is be­cause too many oth­er peo­ple are do­ing what Google is. Some­one at Google may re­al­ly be­lieve the plat­i­tudes in that blog en­try, but in ef­fect the com­pa­ny is en­gaged in kiss­ing the wrong kinds of as­s­es. This is not good. [Up­date: Some­one named Di­di­er is flam­ing me for hypocrisy be­cause he claims Sun sells com­put­ers that are part of the prob­lem. Nor­mal­ly not worth high­light­ing, mais en français... tor­dan­t! (On n’a pas un mot pour “marketing”? Hm­m­m)]
 
Google’s Future · On a few oc­ca­sions in this space I’ve bitched about Google, and I was get­ting ready to write an­oth­er gripe, but I got an un­easy feel­ing, and here’s why: Ba­si­cal­ly, the site is great, and ba­si­cal­ly, the peo­ple who work there are great (in­so­far as I know them). Fur­ther­more, I think they’re go­ing to win the search wars for the fore­see­able fu­ture. Not be­cause of their in­ven­tive­ness; I’m pret­ty sure that a good smart Web-savvy group of soft­ware en­gi­neers could repli­cate the PageRank ma­chin­ery and the AdSense/AdWords mar­ket­places and Gmail and so on. They’re win­ning on the ba­sis of ex­e­cu­tion: The site is al­ways up and it’s al­ways fast and you don’t get bit by bugs. That’s easy to state but it’s in­cred­i­bly hard to do and it re­quires en­gi­neer­ing vir­tu­os­i­ty that I just haven’t seen equaled by any­one else. An out­fit steeped in Web cul­ture like Ya­hoo or Ama­zon or EBay might have a chance at turn­ing the trick, but I don’t see Mi­crosoft hav­ing the DNA for it. Note that I’m talk­ing about the site and the peo­ple, not the com­pa­ny or its shares; but at the mo­men­t, I’d cheer­ful­ly bet that two years from now I’ll still be do­ing a lot of Web search­ing and that I’ll be do­ing most of it at Google.
 
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