Friday, July 20, 2007

Don't fight the internet

One of Google's key philosophical ideas is "don't fight the internet". This explains, for instance, their instance on some of these issues, among many others:

  • Offering Google apps for your domain, for free, for as many accounts as you'd want.
  • Buying services such as analytics or writely or blogger or Google earth or feedburner, and offering them for free.
Now, contrast this stance with those companies that try to fight the internet:
  • Myspace, which blocked photobucket users (probably as a Schelling threat maneuver to obtain a better bargain in the sale);
  • Websites such as the Nobel academy, or MIT opencourseware, which make it difficult, or impossible, for one to embed their videos in other sites (I have embedded from both in posts here, but it's hard to do so). Contrast that to the easiness which is embedding videos from youtube or metacafe.
  • The Belgian news outlets, which have actually sued Google for sending them traffic through Google news!
The basic point is: some people and companies simply want to control how their information gets distributed after it is on the network; but that is counter-productive and reflects the thinking from a previous long gone age. If your newspaper is not on Google, other newspapers will get more traffic (and more profits). If your videos are hard to find, people will flock to youtube or elsewhere. And Myspace is seeing users flocking to Facebook, perhaps as a consequence of its stupid decision, among others.

Now here's some crazy news. European governments want to make an European "Google". Not that they want to breed geniuses to make the next killer application. What they want is a top-down, the-central-goverment-controls-everything approach. A company full of politically appointed people; not world-class geeks imported from Bangalore.

First it was French-based Quaero, now German-based Theseus. Of course, as with any government organization, the only real objective turns out, in the long run, to go deeper into the taxpayer's pocket. They stand no chance against Google. It is, indeed, quite third-worldish for the EU to pose as if their pride has been hurt by the power of a 10-year-old company. And, of course, the European projects are already fighting internally:
"THESEUS developed out of the Quaero initiative suggested by a German-French industry study group in April 2005. In the wake of working out the details of the individual research projects, both sides realized that different focuses had evolved. Therefore, at the request of France, the decision was made at the turn of the year 2006/2007, to continue with the two programs separately for the time being."
I'm not yet an EU taxpayer, but I'm a Brazilian one, and what we do here is just as bad: we fight the laws of economics.

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