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Google's Insular Nature 188

Posted by Zonk
from the hard-nut-to-crack dept.
stockpicker_dude_78 writes "Robert Cringley has written a thought-provoking article on Google's insular nature, and compares them to the similar environment at Microsoft." From the article: "Google is secretive. This started as a deliberate marketing mystique, but endures today more as a really annoying company habit. Google folks don't understand why the rest of us have a problem with this, but then Google folks aren't like you and me. The result of this secrecy and Google's 'almighty algorithm' mentality is that the company makes changes -- and mistakes -- without informing its customers or even doing all that much to correct the problems."
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Google's Insular Nature

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  • price mystique (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Clockwork Troll (655321) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:21AM (#15414429) Journal
    Google's stock price is based on mystique. Investors don't know what they're going to do next so they give them the benefit of the doubt and price the stock as if every effort they're undertaking will be successful as AdWords/AdSense.

    Contrast to amazon.com which is priced much closer to earth because all their cards are on the table.

    Google knows that at this point the switching cost to move to the next best thing when it arrives is low, so they have to sell the future and keep it secret and holy as long as possible.

    • Re:price mystique (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:46AM (#15414511)
      The summary does a poor job of presenting the article. The article is more about the poor job Google is doing with communicating with their customers, especially when things go wrong. Customers in this sense are paying advertisers, not search engine users, picasa users, google earth users, etcetera.

      That said, secrecy is useful for an organization. When you are telling the world what you are doing, so you are telling your competition. So it's not all bad.
      • Vous ne sortez de l'ambiguité qu'à vos propres dépens as they say

        Or roughly in English: You have all to loose if you are no more mysterious, that's the real secret Google credo.

        The problem of Google is to move forward without upsetting Microsoft too much. They need to occupy quietly more and more niches without upsetting the almighty MS, that's why the only solution is to be mysterious about their real long term strategy.

        They just don't want to be the text Netscape and I don't think they will
    • Well said. Is hard to valuate Google based on its current services alone, they have to "inspire us" to make us feel their influence.

      I wish I had mod points.
    • "Google's stock price is based on mystique"

      Yes, and the fun part is that they are happily letting the stock market do whatever they want while doing their own thing. Google's stock pirce could bottom out tomorow and I doubt that it would have much affect on their day-to-day buisness. Wall Street wouldn't be very happy, but it wouldn't do anything to hurt Google's actual cash flow (such as it is), nor their current projects. After all, they already got their money from the IPO, what happens to the stock p
      • Re:price mystique (Score:4, Insightful)

        by drsquare (530038) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:58AM (#15414809)
        Google's stock pirce could bottom out tomorow and I doubt that it would have much affect on their day-to-day buisness.

        It would affect their day-to-day business when half their employees walk out because their options are now worthless.
      • It matters to many of their employees. Valuable stock options are a great way to motivate people. Worthless stock options are pretty demoralizing.

        Also, if the price of their stock did drop too much, they would run the risk of an unfriendly takeover, unless of course the insiders still have most of the shares -- I'm not sure if they do or not. Either way, the stock would really have to tank for that to be likely.

        Anyway, it's all fine for Google to pretend to be above the Wall Street games when the t
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:25AM (#15414447)
    You are violating line #247 of our contract. Namely:

    "The signer agrees to publish only stories that praise Google as supreme ruler of the universe."

    You may yet be spared if you delete this article.

    Love,
    Google
  • by packetmon (977047) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:27AM (#15414453) Homepage
    Motley Fool [fool.com] staffers are just now realizing that Google is slowly running out of gas. Perhaps all this clickfraud exposure is leaving people wondering how could they get away with this Internet ponzi scam for so long... Luckily Google got a little smarter and quieted the naysayers a bit by doing the MS thing and buying all the competition around them. Smart move. MS bought all threats and consumed them into the heap of junk calls Windows. Google is doing the same slowly via different angles (Skype, Writely ... which competes with MS' Word, Andriod, etc). Anyhow, since its all opinionated, I wonder when will Google's true adclick fraud will truly come to fruition... Experts estimate the true value of what Google would owe would be a couple of BILLION in clickfraud [fuckedgoogle.com].
    • by kesuki (321456) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:49AM (#15414527) Journal
      the problems is that the 'clickthru' model of advertising is fundamentally flawed. if you're company X with so many billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of employees, and some competitor is advertising on google and yit's costing your company money, you just pay a few minimum wage flunkies to just click competitors ads so they 'go away' with television etc, the cost is all based on how many people are going to see the ad.

      impression counts aren't perfect either, since a similar strategy can be used to make them go away, but usually click thru models cost an order of margin more than impression models, since 99% of people on the internet just ignore the ads. thus it should take almost 100 times as many people being paid to make a 'impression' model advert 'simply go away' that factor means that anything short of a massive botnet swarm would be incapable of taking out the adverts of a large corporation like mcdonalds or coca cola.

      I guess the bulk mail industry would just have a new side business to increase their profit margins, to compensate for the loss of 'clickthru' revenues from the popups on their botnet slaves.
      • the problems is that the 'clickthru' model of advertising is fundamentally flawed. if you're company X with so many billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of employees, and some competitor is advertising on google and yit's costing your company money, you just pay a few minimum wage flunkies to just click competitors ads so they 'go away' with television etc, the cost is all based on how many people are going to see the ad.

        If you're going to argue that, you might as well argue that retail is fundame

        • the problem though is that k-mart doesn't make money when people steal a candybar from them, although hershey's does.... do hershey employees go out and shoplift candybars from k-marts to boost revenues? they could, but they could also loose sales.

          with the internet it's entirely different, click fraud Makes google (in place of k-mart) incredible amounts of money every year, at the expense of advertisers(hershey). so that's where your analogy ends, it's not a correct representation... let's do something mor
    • A guy I know runs a successful online business and does advertise with google. I don't think he really cares how many "impressions" he's buying... he pays because buying the ads increases his sales. Businesses are smart enough to focus on the bottom line, so I think the effect of click-fraud is already reflected in advertising rates.
    • >Motley Fool staffers are just now realizing that Google is slowly running out of gas.

      That's not exactly what's happening. The article that you referenced [fool.com] is representative of one MF staffer, and it is posted a rebuttal to a different bullish [fool.com] post. From the article:

      "While Google is my favorite search engine, its valuation gives me the heebie-jeebies. Since Rick was kind enough to respond to my original article [fool.com], I thought it was only fair to respond to his, albeit belatedly. Of course, I still thin

  • by grammar fascist (239789) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:29AM (#15414461) Homepage
    From the article:

    Google attracts advertisers like Luis with the idea that their ads will be cheaper because, frankly, they are selling something that is only thinly traded. The dream is that the system scales and scales fairly, only it isn't fair at all because if Amazon wants to advertise an equation editor USING EXACTLY THE SAME AD TEXT AND FORMATTING AS LUIS -- their words will cost 100 times less than the same words bought by Luis. It's not that Amazon (or any other big Google advertiser) has better copy writers, it is just that they sell a broader range of things.

    "A large percentage of impressions & clicks do have £0.01 minimum bids," said Jeff from Google, "but these are our very highest quality ads/advertisers."

    In other words, the minimum word price is 1p, BUT NOT FOR YOU.


    Um, yeah. The same words should be more effective coming from Amazon than from Cringely's friend Luis, because people are simply more likely to click.

    You could run all this through an algorithm that maximizes expected revenue (AI people would call this "utility") for Google based on click probability, and you'd come up with pretty much what Google does.

    I'm sorry. I'm not a Google fanboi, but this is ridiculous.
    • by grammar fascist (239789) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:32AM (#15414473) Homepage
      Sorry to self-reply, but I just finished the article. Here's the last sentence:

      It all comes down to the AdWords algorithm and its intent, which isn't to help Luis OR Amazon, but to simply maximize profit for Google.

      Why, yes, Cringely, I think you may have just figured it out. Good job, have a gold star, go to the head of the class. You finally passed ECON 101.
      • by shmlco (594907) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:33AM (#15414626) Homepage
        It all comes down to the AdWords algorithm and its intent, which isn't to help Luis OR Amazon, but to simply maximize profit for Google.

        I think this either/or is leaving a few major participants out of the equation: Google's users.

        Profits notwithstanding, the primary intent of the AdWords algorithm is to provide relevant content to the user, including relevant ads. Present irrelevant content and ads, and the users disappear, and the revenue does likewise..
        • by natophonic (103088) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:59AM (#15414812)
          Profits notwithstanding, the primary intent of the AdWords algorithm is to provide relevant content to the user, including relevant ads.

          Exactly... If I search on 'equation editor latex', I'd rather see
          Equation editor -- Edit science/math equations in LaTex, import to Word
          than
          Low price equation editor at Walmart
          and
          Find antique equation editor at Ebay
          and
          Sexy Latex Bodysuits from Amazon.

          I realize Cringley brought "the rich get richer" silliness into it, but the point is that if Google just whores themselves out to the biggest-budget spenders, they'll alienate the users who found AdWords different and useful compared to the typical web advertising noise.

    • by ktappe (747125) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:42AM (#15414504)
      The same words should be more effective coming from Amazon than from Cringely's friend Luis, because people are simply more likely to click.
      Not true at all. In a properly targeted campaign, users would be just as likely to click on either ad. If I Google "equation editor" and Luis' ad pops up, I'm just as likely to click on it as I would be if I Googled "Sonicare" and an Amazon ad for a Sonicare toothbrush pops up. Cringley's highly valid point is that because this likelihood is equal, the cost of the ads should be equal. But Luis is charged hundreds of times more than Amazon for the same efficacy. And I wholeheartedly agree with him that this is unfair.

      -Kurt

      • "Cringley's highly valid point is that because this likelihood is equal, the cost of the ads should be equal. But Luis is charged hundreds of times more than Amazon for the same efficacy. And I wholeheartedly agree with him that this is unfair.
        -Kurt"


        I wholeheartedly agree.

      • by shmlco (594907) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:24AM (#15414611) Homepage
        Whatever happen to the time-honored tradition of "volume discounts"? It's probably not "fair" that Walmart can get better prices on goods than the local mom-and-pop, but they do.

        But in both cases (WM/Google) the cost of doing business with a smaller supplier/advertiser is a higher percentage off the potential income. Spend more with Google, and you get better discounts that reflect that fact you're making them more money with basically the same amount of overhead (billing, etc.).
      • Not true at all. In a properly targeted campaign, users would be just as likely to click on either ad. If I Google "equation editor" and Luis' ad pops up, I'm just as likely to click on it as I would be if I Googled "Sonicare" and an Amazon ad for a Sonicare toothbrush pops up.

        I don't know about that. There's a certain power in branding that you're overlooking. If I search for "Sonicare" and an Amazon ad for a Sonicare toothbrush comes up, I may well click on it because I have purchased from them befor
    • Your assertion would be correct if Amazon were putting any money on the keywords in question. However, Amazon is not putting any money on the "latex" keyword or on "equation editors". One would think keywords would be priced based on advertiser demand. If no one else is bidding on those words, then Google technically shouldn't even care if Luis is buying them up. The cost for Google is pretty close to nothing.
      As it stands now, Google priced Luis out of advertising which means that if you search for "latex e
  • The subject (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daybot (911557) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:29AM (#15414464)
    Um, isn't this an article on AdSense whose introduction mentions the insular nature of the company?

    I know it sucks for the small guy, but the way AdSense works is logical and good for the consumer. Previously it was not enough clicks = irrelevant ad = no more ad impressions. Now it's not enough clicks = irrelevant ad = higher price. Both solutions make, er, (ad)sense.

  • by elgee (308600) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:32AM (#15414475)
    I have never had a problem with Microsoft or Google. Are they perfect? Of cousre not. And yes, I have worked with a LOT of operating systems over the many years I have dealt with computers. I think that success always attracts the detractors.

    Pardon any mispellings. I have been hitting the Newcastle Brown Ale a bit much.
  • The point? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ivan1011001 (751254)
    This article is not an in-depth analysis of Google's business practices so much as it is one man complaining about two or three bad expereinces he has had with Google.

    This doesn't mean that Google is secretive or paranoid, just that Google is a large corporation. Corporatoins are not perfect, just like their legal equivalent.

    Why is this news?
    • Why is this news? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pedantic bore (740196)
      This is "news" because everyone treats Google like they're special, different, blessed, and the saviour of the internet.

      They're not. They're a bunch of guys with a great PR machine, who like to make money, and who are surrounded by a bunch of technonerds. Behind the hype, Google is the Walmart of the internet.

  • Hiring young talent then working them like dogs becuase of how excited they are to work at google/microsoft isn't a bad strategy, for the company. For all their evils both google and microsoft are among the greatest business stories of our age. Maybe they were onto something?
  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:39AM (#15414495) Journal
    Seems like another dot-bomb in the making.

    Not totally, if you were in early (IPO) you made money, but not now.

    Look, I use Google all the time... but I fail to see how they make one dime from me.

    By contrast, take eBay. I use them too -- at least I can see how they have directly made a few hundred bucks from me over the last few years, for services rendered.

    ebay is 2/3 the price of goog (P/E ratios), so, right off the bat, goog stock ought to drop $100 USD just to be priced similar to eBay... then, maybe both of the aforementioned stocks could drop in value by half again, just to be priced more in line with other stocks... (P/E 20-ish).

    • goog stock ought to drop $100 USD just to be priced similar to eBay... then, maybe both of the aforementioned stocks could drop in value by half again, just to be priced more in line with other stocks... (P/E 20-ish).

      If only logic like this dictated stock prices. But, instead, groupthink and herd mentality seem to be the prime factors in stock price movement. So if you're not much of a follower and don't think like the crowd, you'll tend to get burned in the Market.

      It's a weird world,

      -Kurt


      • ...groupthink and herd mentality...

        Not to denigrate the average American (those here tend to be pretty engaging and intelligent), but isn't this what keeps clueless marketers (and peripherally, spam) in business?

        Canadians are just as stupid as Americans (percentage-wise), it's just that the actual volume as compared to the US level of morons is insignifigant. America wins again - USA! USA! USA!
    • This is a good example of uninformed posting.

      To compare Google to a dotcom seems more a misunderstanding of what is going on than anything else. While you may not like Google, the value of their stock, how they conduct their business, or whatever else... you can't say it's not worth it.

      For example, in my company, we find that nearly 80% of all software purchases start with Google. Not with someone else. Google. In a multibillion dollar industry, that's a lot of searches. We have a lot of money we send
    • Not totally, if you were in early (IPO) you made money, but not now.

      I'm sure that's what everyone said about Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, Intel, etc. You didn't have to buy MSFT in 1986 to make money from it.

      Look, I use Google all the time... but I fail to see how they make one dime from me.

      Well, isn't that really your lack of understanding of their business, not theirs?

      ebay is 2/3 the price of goog (P/E ratios), so, right off the bat, goog stock ought to drop $100 USD just to be priced similar to eBay... then
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The best company is one that can get money from a consumer and not even have the consumer know that they are giving the company money.
  • by swid27 (869237) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:50AM (#15414533) Homepage

    The thing that's always bugged me about Google is the generalized sense of smug superiority the company seems to emanate. "Look at our amusing job position titles!" "No, don't ask us about what we do with all the data we collect!" "Here, look at the quirky benefits we provide for our employees!" "Please, stop pointing out that while we brag about how much we love open source software, most of our exciting free applications are only available for Windows!"

    Google is the kid in high school who is smart (but not exceptionally so), works *very* hard to maintain 4.0 GPA and also sucks up to his teachers all the time. However, he gets very secretive and passive-aggressive when you point out his imperfections.

    • by div_2n (525075) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:57AM (#15414672)
      most of our exciting free applications are only available for Windows!

      What, you mean like Picasa? [google.com]

      Or maybe you mean Google Earth. [linuxtoday.com]

      No, not native. But in the process they are contributing back to Wine. So you get Google apps in Linux and Wine is improved in the process. Sounds good to me.
      • Picasa for Linux is "Labs" (that's Google speak for alpha). Google Earth is beta on the Mac (though an alpha was widely leaked) and is not available for Linux at all. From the article you linked: "When asked if the additions to WINE would bootstrap Google Earth's porting progress, DiBona answered in the negative, explaining that Google Earth relied on Qt and GL libraries and code, so additional WINE support would not help. No timeline for that application's release was revealed at this time." (emphasis a
        • Open Source Patches: Wine [google.com].

          Your emphasises are misguided or possibly misguiding: What DiBona says is that the Wine patches for Picasa does not help a port of Earth, because it's not the same parts that prevent it from running. Quite possibly, if it's QT and GL, Wine has nothing to do with getting it to run.

          They paid a Linux-based company (CodeWeavers) to improve a free software product (Wine) for everyones benefit. What, exactly, is the problem with that?
    • by kv9 (697238) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:01AM (#15414676) Homepage
      "Please, stop pointing out that while we brag about how much we love open source software, most of our exciting free applications are only available for Windows!"

      isn't it logical to start on the most popular platform and if it pans out, expand [google.com]?

      brag or no brag, they put their money/code where their mouth is (code [google.com]/SoC [google.com]/OpenBSD [undeadly.org])

      Google is the kid in high school who is smart (but not exceptionally so), works *very* hard to maintain 4.0 GPA and also sucks up to his teachers all the time. However, he gets very secretive and passive-aggressive when you point out his imperfections.

      looks to me that they always shut the fuck up and do their job. and churn out nifty products all the time. i guess that's what people don't like -- i mean, what kinda company are they if they don't toot their own horn all the time and fail to deliver? something must be rotten!
      • "isn't it logical to start on the most popular platform and if it pans out, expand"

        For any other company, yes, but I'm not so sure with Google. Google is where they are today in part because of geeks. Geeks were using Google when everyone else was using Yahoo and MSN search. When Google started putting out software, it was all for Windows -- and it's only been in the last, what 2 years? less?, that using Google became common among non-geeks (most of whom run Windows). In other words, their software wasn'

    • "Please, stop pointing out that while we brag about how much we love open source software, most of our exciting free applications are only available for Windows!"

      At the risk of restarting this flame war, why would google make software for Linux? A lot of their stuff, like Google Earth, has no clear revenue stream for them on windows either. And hitting 93% of users is a lot more tempting than going for 3%.

      Google is basically responsible for Firefox's income stream. I'd argue that does more for Linux than
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Just stop viewing the world with a high school mentality, and the problem will magically disappear. Once you're moved on and, like the rest of us, view things like companies based on their real-world actions and products-- rather than whether they make you feel inferior in front of an imaginary teacher that no longer exists-- you'll feel so much better. I promise.
    • by Demerara (256642) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:08AM (#15414691) Homepage
      Google is the kid in high school who is smart (but not exceptionally so), works *very* hard to maintain 4.0 GPA and also sucks up to his teachers all the time. However, he gets very secretive and passive-aggressive when you point out his imperfections.

      Cringely's article is very well researched and he brings to our attention some genuine issues with Google. Not to mention Google's spokesperson's descent into corporate bollick-speak (forgive me but that's really the only way to put it).

      Google are hurtling towards that point where they lose credibility because the public positions they are forced to take are so obviously driven by their need to maintain shareholder rather than stakeholder (and by stakeholder I mean small and medium business customers and the wider, but influential, technical community) confidence.

      I regretted not buying Google stock early on but, frankly, now I'm glad I didn't - if they don't crush the fraudulent AdWord click issue, they'll lose the plot completely and deserve all they get in the markets.
    • '"Please, stop pointing out that while we brag about how much we love open source software, most of our exciting free applications are only available for Windows!"'

      I'm not sure who says you're evil if your open source projects aren't exciting to you, but most of their OSS projects work OS neutral or for POSIX systems only, not Windows-only. (http://code.google.com/projects.html) They make most of their server stuff for server OSes, and most of their desktop stuff for desktop OSes. Oh no, they're making sen
  • by liangzai (837960) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:53AM (#15414541) Homepage
    I really believe they are a secret affiliate to Microsoft. They still refuse to index application/xml+xhtml pages, and what browser is it that can't display such pages?

    Also, their UI is as inferior as Microsoft's.

    To me, they ARE Micrsoft, and therefore evil.

    Shame on all of you who bought their slogan... and congrats on Google for such smooth sales operations, fooling even the tech savvy whiz kids.
  • Your point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Duncan3 (10537) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:53AM (#15414543) Homepage
    Of course they are secretive.

    They know as well as the rest of us that it will take about 3 days for everyone on the planet to dump Google as soon as a search engine without pages of fake sites filled with ads or just irrelivant sites is all you get no matter what you search for.

    Remember AltaVista?

    No reason for Google to give us 3 days notice ;)

    • Yeah! And why can't I see the 1001st result when I search "cringely" (http://www.google.com/search?q=cringely&hl=en&sta rt=999 [google.com]) -- or anything else for that matter?

      What is Google hiding?
    • They know as well as the rest of us that it will take about 3 days for everyone on the planet to dump Google as soon as a search engine without pages of fake sites filled with ads or just irrelivant sites is all you get
      Yes, I'm familiar with that. But there are other things to search for besides porn, you know!
    • Re:Your point? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by oncebitten (893231)
      I don't know about you, but I've been getting crappy results with simple searches in Google recently.

      Used to be I wanted to find take out taxi or a random restaurant menu here in the DC area, no problem, first hit (I didn't event need to specify Alexandria VA or Alexandria LA), now I get a whole bunch of random crap, none which is what I'm looking for.

      Even finding technical issues for stuff posting on mailing lists is a problem.

      Advertising *is* diluting Google's product. It's the reason I switched from Yah
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:55AM (#15414547)
    Google has already peaked. It used to be that the quality of links in Google's search results were very good, and reflected pages with good content. No more. The spammers have figured out how to put their pages on top of Google's searches. The trick, basically, is to have a lot of pages with links to each other, which fools Google's link ranking algorithm.

    For example, Here is a bogus blog site which is trying to Googlebomb [fluegenerator.com]. It looks like a blog site, but the site in question just grabs text from RSS feeds and makes a bogus blog, which also has ads which this spammer hopes to get high Google ratings with.

    In my case, I had a bad transcription of the Lyrics to an early 1980s song have a high Google rank score at one point. It was a clearly personal web page. Well, back in 2002, it was one of the first ten links Googling for this particular song. These days, a Google search for this song gives you those sites which have made an ad-filled page with no content for every name in their database, those lyrics sites with too many popups, ads, and spyware (and who have copied my poorly-transcribed lyrics instead of the real lyrics), the Amazon page for this product--but my lyrics page is no where to be found.

    Google's goden age has come and gone. Their searches are becoming less relevant and informitive, and big players like Microsoft are butting in to their territory (for people who don't think Microsoft can make an effective search engine: People said Microsoft couldn't make a decent browser in 1996).

    These days, Myspace [myspace.com] is the place to be (In the USA, that hot chick will have a MySpace page and will give you their MySpace ID); You Tube [youtube.com] is a great place to easily get pirated TV content (cool rare 1980s music videos and Dr. Who TV shows, in my case); and DIGG [digg.com] is more relevant than Slashdot (but shares Slashdot's problem of having too many fanboys and flamers).
    • People said Microsoft couldn't make a decent browser in 1996

      and they would be right
    • People said Microsoft couldn't make a decent browser in 1996

      I think most people on /. would agree that ten years later, they still can't. Popular by default (not by choice) does not necessarily equal decent.
    • for people who don't think Microsoft can make an effective search engine: People said Microsoft couldn't make a decent browser in 1996

      People are saying that in 2006 too.
    • Perhaps it's not the search engine that has peaked so much as the corpus that it is searching. Ten years ago, the bulk of the Internet was pages hand-written by real people, with (arguably) useful information on most of them. It sounds like recently large amounts of "noise" pages that are deliberately designed to do nothing but fool search engines have been added, reducing the signal-to-noise ratio of the Internet considerably.

      True, Google (and/or other search engines) may be indirectly responsible for th

  • What?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mblase (200735) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:57AM (#15414557)
    It all comes down to the AdWords algorithm and its intent, which isn't to help Luis OR Amazon, but to simply maximize profit for Google.

    Darn those publicly traded companies! How dare they!

    "Do No Evil" only really applies when you don't count making a profit as "Evil", folks.
  • by mrraven (129238) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:11AM (#15414587)
    Google was every geeks darling and there was very much a see no evil attitude until Google did the blatantly evil thing of censoring Chinese search results. That was fortunately a wake up call and now I think people are questioning whether Google's "do no evil" ethos is true, which obviously it isn't being a
    a company funded by stock investment it's ONLY priority (and one enforced by law) is returning profit to it's investors. The fly in the ointment though is now since Google is perceived to be hypocritical it's no longer a good investment. The bottom line is that for a lot of people who consider themselves to be rationalists geeks are effected by fundamentally irrational trends i.e. feelings towards a company as much as anyone else. Google good, google bad, depends on which week we are on. Would this article have been written before Google sold out to the Chinese? Probably not since the geeks hadn't turned on Google yet even though they were doing the EXACT things this article talks about before the Chinese debacle.

    So yes I think in many ways the criticism of Google is a good thing, it's just too bad we had our irrational blinders on about OTHER Google blunders before the big Chinese sell out.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:49AM (#15414654)
      Because it looks to me here more like what's happening here is just the "geek community" (by which, of course, I just mean "people who read slashdot") increasingly losing all touch with reality.

      You can see this happening in a number of ways, but the increasing process of demonizing Google more and more (to the exclusion of having much energy left over to care about corporate interests which are legitimately harming the public good) is just the funniest.

      You wanna know when Google got "evil"? It had nothing to do with China. Google got "evil" when they got successful. Self-proclaimed "geeks" got so used to rooting for the underdog that, pavlov style, as soon as Google became the overdog they started reflexively rooting against them.

      I was reading Slashdot on the day that Google went IPO; people were already predicting, before the IPO, that Google would no longer be able to keep up a perception of being "good" while a for-profit, publicly traded company. And then the next day, when Google went IPO, they went ahead and started perceiving Google as "evil", without going to the bother of waiting for Google to actually do anything evil. Once Google finally went and got around to starting up a search site hosted in China*, these people started using this retroactively as the justification for their loose anger against Google. People who weren't looking for a reason to demonize Google barely even noticed the whole China thing.

      * What, you think what Google did was "censoring search results"? The Chinese google search sites hosted in America and Taiwan aren't censored and still work just the same as they always did. It's just that now Google also has a local site hosted in China and adhering to China's censorship laws that people in China can use if they want unfettered access to Google without having to circumvent China's web filters every time they need to search for something. Is this an ethical thing for Google to do? Maybe, maybe not, with the balance probably being on "not". But by doing this, Google has hurt nobody; if Google hadn't done this, nobody would have been helped and all that would have happened is MSN would have become the default search engine in China. The only reason we view Google's presence in China as a problem is that we for whatever reason hold Google to the special standard that they shouldn't do business in China, a standard we do not hold Cisco, Yahoo, Microsoft, Fox News, CNN, McDonalds, or the U.S. Government to.

      How can you tell when the Slashdot userbase has lost all sense, logic, or integrity? When they start agreeing with Cringely.
      • Best post I've read in months. Nothing else. Just wanted to say that...
      • But by doing this, Google has hurt nobody

        I'm not so sure about that... by doing this, Google hurt the market for web-filter-evasion software: people who would have had to circumvent the censors to get good search results now just take the easier path: use google.cn, and get good, censored search results. The effects of this are:

        1. The filter-evading software gets less use, and less development
        2. Anyone still using the filter-evading software no longer has the excuse of "I had to do it, it was the only way to g
      • Great summary, that's exactly what's been happening. Some of my buddies have started going back to services like MSN Search and Hotmail (gag). And yes, they complain about how the services suck... Idiocy.

        Pavlov's geeks, I love it.
      • It's just that now Google also has a local site hosted in China and adhering to China's censorship laws that people in China can use if they want unfettered access to Google without having to circumvent China's web filters every time they need to search for something.

        How exactly does setting up an instance of the search engine that is "adhering to China's censorship laws" providing "unfettered access to Google"?

        It may say Google there on the page, but it's certainly not the same thing that the rest of

    • This is going a bit too far in my opinion. There are many companies that do excell in not doing evil (and even the opposite). In many cases it becomes a central part in what they stand for, and people would not forgive such a company for going the other route. Take for instance XS4ALL, a very successfull internet provider here in the Netherlands. Currently it is part of KPN. KPN is not a company that has "doing good" in its mission statements (using pretty unfair business practices to keep its head above th
  • to announce too much of their plans?

    One handidcap is that their competition sniffs it out and takes away their advantage in getting enough lead time to come up front.

    Do a search on Yahoo - the result page is identical to Google. Is that original Yahoo - no, copied from Google afaikt.

    I enjoy Google - they are refreshing.

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:37AM (#15414633) Journal
    its quite interesting that people think a corporation is exempt, or somehow free of greed. Sam Wall was a good guy, but when he died, the corp. made things evil. Google can be, or maybe already is, evil. Internet users, as a whole, should be asking 'what have you done for me lately' not what is evil or not evil. The whole business of the Internet is about what have you done for me lately. Any Internet business model not based on that is a business that really doesn't understand the Internet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:40AM (#15414641)
    There's a reason Cringley has remained a mediocre journalist, while google is a multi-billion software firm founded on being really, really smart.

    This reason is exemplified by Cringley misunderstanding that google (and microsoft, and coke, and countless other hugely successful firms) are successful *solely* because they own trade secrets, leveraged into strategy -- and not because of some stupid "mystique" concept invented by mediocre journalists because they don't know what the company is actually doing, but still get paid by the word.

    Duh.
  • by eddeye (85134) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:12AM (#15414701)

    Robert Cringley has written a thought-provoking article...

    segmentation fault, core dumped

  • by DRM_is_Stupid (954094) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:24AM (#15414726)
    Google folks don't understand why the rest of us have a problem with this

    Who? Wha..? Who are these "the rest of us" that this guy speaks of? A similar phenomenon happens with Apple fandom sites. Basically, when a news site or reporter decides to focus only on one or two companies, s/he ends up not having enough news, and this causes a lot of frustration. And they usually end up going down the path of speculative reporting (which is usually really boring, long, and incorrect).
  • by realmolo (574068) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:28AM (#15414735)
    Google is probably too secretive, but I appreciate their attitude. They have VERY LITTLE respect for the stock analysts, and Wall Street in general.

    The fact of the matter is that the stock market is built on false (or at least dubious) perceptions. Google refuses to play that game. They don't tell ANYBODY what they're doing, which evens the playing field. The "big players" don't have any insider information, and so don't have a significant advantage over the "little players". I think it's great. Google basically says "We're not going to help the rich get richer."

    That said, they are playing a dangerous game. Wall Street (and their ilk) essentially controls the U.S. economy. A given business pisses them off at their own peril. But at least Google is making the effort. And so far it has worked.
  • by hansreiser (6963) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:55AM (#15414804) Homepage
    that it is secretive, it seems to me that company is pretty saintly.

    Now I myself can say worse things about Google, namely that I read through their defense of their collusion with China on censorship, and the more they defend it the clearer it is that their motivation is greed. I myself never got as aggressive as I would have in pursuing Chinese business opportunities because of being ill at ease about their government, and Google could have survived losing that market.

    However, on the whole they are a good and generous company, possessed of the same amount of greed and other flaws as most generally good corporations or people have.

    This could, of course, change.;-)

      Really, most of us have a lot more flaws than being secretive.... I do (but I keep them secret;-) ).
  • I think I like the mentality of "We're not going to tell you what we're working on until it's done". Compare that to something like Duke Nukem Forever, or damn near any Microsoft product. Hype kills technology for me. I'd much rather just have products appear in a usable state than listen to people talk about something that doesn't exist for two years only to find out the producer is killing the project.

    SPARE ME.

    Oh, looks like Google is trying to. Good for them.
  • "we'd much rather show nothing (white space) than a poorly targeted or non-relevant ad"

    "It does not mean, however, that Mr. Dias or any other advertiser will be able to economically show ads that are not relevant and not consistent with user intent. If Mr. Dias or other advertisers want a large quantity of untargeted impressions, there are a variety of media that offer these relatively cost effectively (e.g., web banner ads, TV, newspapers, magazines)."

    eBay ads? *cough* *cough*
  • Why not just split adwords into daily/weekly/monthly ad campaigns and for each have "auctions" or where each company says I want to put X dollars on word Y. Then their ad would be displayed X/(total amount placed on Y) of the time. This model is impervious to click fraud, yet both Google and the business still get fair market pricing.

    Google could help push the price up buy releasing the total amount in each pot and still report the number of clicks (although due to fraud this number is less and less import
  • Cringely is, as usual, talking out of his ass.

    Google has a blog that tells you what's going on.

    Google puts its in-house development projects online as "beta" tools.

    Google's ultra-simple front-page portal isn't about secrecy, it's about giving you exactly what you want when you go to Google's front-page.

    Cringley needs to start thinking faster than he can type instead of the other way around.
  • With Matt Cutts' blog and GoogleGuy on that webmaster forum and the many interviews some of Google's higher ups give there is a lot of information going out to the public.

    What are the things people think Google should publish which they are not at the moment?

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