Google once again surprised Wall Street with a 3rd Quarter report that was even better than expected. There’s more coverage than you can shake a pay per click ad at:
The new MIT Center for Collective Intelligence is a really interesting idea with *potentially* earth shaking implications. Or maybe I should say Climate shaking implications since Global Climate change collaboration is one of their first efforts.
The basic concept is simple: Use the internet to create global collaborations to solve problems.
My knee-jerk reaction after very briefly perusing the website is that some of the effort may get bogged down in it’s own somewhat beauracratically flavored “sign up here” approach:
Participation in the Handbook of Collective Intelligence is completely voluntary and participation will be subject to terms and conditions that will be added at a later date. While you should feel free to participate after registering by adding your contributions via additions, deletions, or edits of Handbook materials at this time, you should be aware that any such contributions will be subject to the terms and conditions that will be added at a later date. Once the terms and conditions are added, you will be required to re-register and assent to the terms and conditions. If you fail to assent to the terms and conditions within forty-five (45) days of their addition to the Handbook, all of your input will be removed from the Handbook. Upon your assent to the terms and conditions, you will be free to re-enter your contributions.
Given that the internet itself is already starting to resemble something of a collective intelligence entity, I hope MIT also works on ways to wire people in directly (or at least participate by simply doing things online) such that the collective contributions online become part of the collective intelligence network.
Yet however it all shakes out I can think of nothing more compelling than huge global collaborative intellectual efforts to solve the many pressing problems we feeble humans have wrought as a result of our inadequacies.
Although I’m more concerned about the virtual monopoly on search rather than Google’s assualt on Microsoft’s virtual monopoly on operating systems and office applications, everybody is well served to start thinking, as Voltaire sort of suggested hundreds of years ago “Is an all-Google world the best of all possible worlds?”
The answer, of course, is NO. Google’s brought great stuff and should keep on bringing great stuff. Google’s been rewarded with almost unimaginable riches and that’s fine. It may even be true that the Google juggernaut has some juggernauting to do before it needs to be brought in check. Sometimes it’s great to let super clever people just run with things until they run out of steam.
But like Chris I think it’s now clear that stock prices and commercial considerations have considerable influence on Google and their decisions and operations. You don’t have to think Google is running around intentionally doing monopolistic things to worry that if the going gets tougher and they no longer have so much of the search market and are fighting to maintain the stock Price Earnings ratios and options values the “don’t be evil” mantra may be interpreted more as “don’t be P/Evil-keep Google on top”! Wait. I think that Mantra change is already under way.
Google is a great company, but as Chris suggests that doesn’t mean we should stop keeping our eyes on them.
Disclaimer: I’m hardly a market mover but should say I do have stock in Google competitor Yahoo and puts on Google because I thought it was overpriced.