Update: A Googley View of the matter: Google speaketh o Copyrights
Often the weekend brings the best internet philosophy discussions and one is brewing today about whether Google is the good or bad guy in the content equation. The answer in my opinion is that it is pretty nuanced and best seen as a series of inevitabilities rather than points about fairness or best practices or who is doing what for whom.
Over at the Guardian the argument is that Google’s gotten out of hand and is running roughshod over anybody who stands in their profitable path:
…. one detects in Google something that is delinquent and sociopathic, perhaps the character of a nightmarish 11-year-old. This particular 11-year-old has known nothing but success and does not understand the risks, skill and failure involved in the creation of original content, nor the delicate relationships that exist outside its own desires and experience. There is a brattish, clever amorality about Google that allows it to censor the pages on its Chinese service without the slightest self doubt, store vast quantities of unnecessary information about every Google search, and menace the delicate instruments of democratic scrutiny. And, naturally, it did not exercise Google executives that Street View not only invaded the privacy of millions and made the job of burglars easier …
Meanwhile Mike Arrington disagrees – more accurately lashes out at the Google detractors, suggesting:
Let’s all be clear here. What Porter and Bragg want is a subsidy from Google. A sort of welfare tax on a profitable company so that they can continue to draw the paychecks they’ve become accustomed to. That isn’t going to happen, and all this hand wringing isn’t helping to move their respective industries toward a successful business model. They either need to adapt or die. And they’re choosing a very noisy and annoying death.
Some truth to this but also pretty harsh given how disruptive Google’s been to the whole show. Mike overlooks that the *single most disruptive act* in internet history was Google’s launch of Adsense, which monetizes content for all websites and more than any other single factor has led to an explosion of the spam, mediocre content, and some excellent content that has accelerated (though I think has not caused) the demise of legacy content providers like newspapers.
I said over at TechCrunch that:
Mike I’m not sure I agree with the analysis but here you’ve pulled together the “Google Goodness” argument about as cleverly and succinctly as it can be done.
I think a bigger perspective on this is far more nuanced. The rise of Google search aggregation has in most cases diminished the average profitability of premium content. It has slightly (but only ever so slightly) *raised* the tiny profitability of non-premium content such as the ocean of mediocre blog posts, stupid pet trick websites, and made for adsense efforts. Something is gained as we move to a very democratic global publishing paradigm but also something significant is lost in this equation. David Brooks of the NYT writes some brilliant stuff we need to hear in these challenged times. He refuses to use Twitter. Like hundreds of other bloggers I write some political stuff too but few of my pieces are as informed as Brooks’ analyses.
However I’m happy to use Twitter and work for free. I may win, but we all may lose something after the blogging and Twittering and Adsense dust settles.