Google and the Search for the Future by Jenkins Jr. Holman
In “Google and the Search for the Future”, apart from Holman’s criticism of Eric Schmidt (Google CEO at the time), he draws attention to Google’s efforts to save their search engine in the face of the escalating “app” revolution. The article shows that apple’s Iphone and its applications is a key player in the future of mobile computing. Google, with its Android, is trying to take back search revenues from Apple by having their own platform for the mobile search engine.
Google is also coming up with Chrome OS, which will work as an online operating system. Such a browser may make Google a key player in the future of cloud computing. Schmidt reveals that Google’s next step as a search engine is not to answer people’s questions but rather to tell people what to do. Google has enough information about its user’s needs and habits that they can eventually tell them what they need to buy when they are close to a shop that sells that thing. That use of information in Schmidt’s opinion is the future of advertising.
Facebook has more information about its users than Google will ever have. How do you feel about Facebook using your information in the same way Google plans? Would you find it “ creepy “ that Google or Facebook tells you what you need?
If Facebook uses its database in aggressive advertising, how will that effect Google’s plan to be part of the future of target advertising?
The Omnigoogle by Nicholas Carr
Contrary to belief, Google’s business strategy is fairly straightforward. More than 99% of its sales come from targeted advertising. Google’s Chrome is just one way venture that complement it’s main business. They are invested into a better online experience. As activity on the internet goes up, so do their profits; but, this concept does not only apply to computers, just thinking about their android platform. When it’s easy and/or free to access the internet, it’s just another way for Google to collect data and turn that into cash. Also think, if one of their “betas” fails, in the digital world the cost is almost zero. The money-making principles of Microsoft and Google are the same, except they run (primarily) on different economies; one is an internet driven economy, and the other a personal computer economy.
After reading this article, why do you think Google is supporting open source software?
Scroogled by Cory Doctorow
This is a fiction story about the risks of your online activities being available and visible to people with power. It’s a terrifying account of what can happen when something like the Patriot Act goes too far and discloses your communications on the internet, and it all begins with targeted advertising. Greg who is trying to get through customs at an airport to reenter the US, is subject to a new program that allows an immigration officers to see what ads are being targeted towards him. Stirring suspicion, Greg becomes blacklisted and subject to more interrogation. With the scope of Google from Maps to Gmail, it’s a way of digitally compiling a file on a name or IP address, much easier than what the Statsi’s did to East Germans following World War II.
I recommend reading it if you are interested in privacy and the internet. One program I know of which seeks to fight abuse of our information is a free add-on for Firefox called TrackMeNot (http://trackmenot.org/) that I turned on again after reading this article. It was created by an NYU professor and doctoral student which they say “Protects users against search data profiling by issuing randomized queries to popular search engines.”
How do you protect your information online, and would you pay for it?
The Cloud’s Chrome Lining by Nicholas Carr
In Carr’s blog article, the author briefly discusses the reasoning behind the creation of the Chrome browser. Simply put, according to Google’s views, the average Internet browser (Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari) was not properly implementing the idea of cloud computing. Google saw cloud computing as a revolutionary way for users to access hundreds of services online via application-like interfaces. However, browser developers were slow in creating a browser that would be quicker and more application oriented. With Google aiming at competing face-to-face with Microsoft, the company, with its own resources, came up with Chrome, an open source browser that would support cloud applications.
Cloud computing is the future. Are you willing to hand over your email, calendars, contacts, group sharing, task-listing, and other software to third-party cloud services? Can you trust that your work will be accessible over the cloud for as long as you need it?
Google and Aptocracy by Siva Vaidhyanathan
According to author Siva Vaidhyanathan, Google uses a technocratic – or aptocratic – way of working. The author makes a simile with today’s modern institutions, meant to “conceive merit as a technical competence”. Today, we find ourselves taking LSATs and GMATs, aptitude tests which via numerical scores will allow us to enter the most prestigious universities. In turn, upon graduation, we will enter our dream jobs with the same kind of aptitudinal tests and interviews, after which we will reach the top of the ladder and make sure that those tests’ standards will be raised to allow for an even more competitive generation of workers.
Ultimately Google does the same. It’s employees are carefully selected after extremely difficult logical tests, after which only the cream of the crop gets hired. Similarly, the way Google searches are categorized follows an aptocratic way. Only those pages that pass strict algorithmic tests will eventually show up in the first results. The author cites Neil Postman’s concept of technopoly whereby society rules by and for technology. Then, Vaidhyanathan proceeds to disagree with Postman, in that technology is not autonomous, but rather we humans have influence over how technology works.
Finally, he concludes with the Google example. Google applies real-life cultural values and ideas to its technologies, so that its technologies fit the users’ needs. Which is exactly why Google uses the aptocratic method, so as to serve those users who live in aptocratic society.
The efficacy of aptitude tests has been debated for years now. Do you think that aptitude tests prevent Google – and other institutions – from hiring people that might change the world, because they just happen to get low scores when being tested?