I remember the debate in some English Literature class: will the future be like George Orwell’s “1984” or Aldus Huxley’s “Brave New World”? I am a social media scientist by nature it seems because Huxley was always where I would put my money. But the “soma” of our time isn’t a drug, it is information. And one company seems to be controlling it all.
I was chuckling to myself while watching the hilarious “Google autocompleter” video. I almost posted it on Facebook. But I have worried too long about this to fall into the trap. Google is not evil as per se. Google is wielding the biggest weapon ever to exist in human history. Let’s hope it doesn’t get too evil with it. But what harm is there in April fool day’s pranks like Gmail motion?
It is getting worse than free. When Google decides to put all companies related to GPS, mapping and anything related to pasture it is one thing. Spending gazillions creating Google Maps, navigation software, and even promoting services around this ecosystem is worrying for competitors, annoying for lawmakers (since they don’t seem to have a profit making reason to do it) but useful for end users. OK, it disrupted a major developing industry in ways we can’t even decipher yet. Losing money on video serving via YouTube on a scale unimaginable to any corporation for years however is quite another thing. It looks crazy and I wonder why other corporations aren’t emulating the “free” model. Give away something really enormous in order to hook customers on something seemingly unrelated.
The silly little spoof video just puts it a step further in my mind. Google can buy or create content to disrupt the world even more! Why stop at making all books available online for free? (Whether their authors want to or not…) In a way, they are lucky Steve Jobs is almost dead because he is the only person with the cash and the will to do something similar. They can just buy the rights to anything they like and use it to gain eyeballs. It would be the equivelant of BP buying distribution rights to a popular sitcom or Pampers to the next “Cars” movie and then using the publicity or forcing consumers to do something in order to enjoy their favorite show/film. It would be like Nike buying out FIFA and stopping the final of the World Cup to say “we want you all to ‘like’ our page on facebook or we will stop the game!”
Except Google is smarter than that. Google has managed to keep looking like the underdog in everything it does. Google makes every evil step it takes towards an unimaginable monopoly in the search for information look like a legitimate one. For the common good even. It is Big Brother wearing a Tshirt and sneakers. It is the equivelant of “soma” in Huxley’s brave new world, like a drug that keeps everyone happy, a glut of information that keeps us sedate and unable to act.
If you aren’t too scared of getting on Google’s black list, use the comment box below to leave a response… But the Thought Police will know instantly!