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More Google coverage

I discussed Google earlier this week, but the coverage just keeps on going. At a certain point, it becomes a question about whether there is actually over-coverage of the subject -- are readers sick of it and/or are we telling them something new and different that they haven't seen elsewhere.

Here is something that gives me an indication that people are still interested in the story: I got a e-mail newsletter from the NYT yesterday listing the 10 most e-mailed stories from November and this one was number four.

Just Googling It Is Striking Fear Into Companies [NYT, 11.6.2005]

As Google increasingly becomes the starting point for finding information, companies are beginning to view the company with some angst, mixed with admiration.


It just provides an indication of interest.

Meanwhile, PBS's NewsHour featured a segment on Google last night. They don't have a transcript, but they do have a RealAudio version that you can watch. They featured WP reporter David Vise, author of The Google Story, and John Battelle, author of The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture.

I wish they had a transcript because the discussion was interesting. Vise was talking about how Google does maintain this data about information from searches to mail messages, while Battelle noted that the company, wary of been seen as a Microsoft bad guy, has a 'Do No Wrong' motto.

Personally, I still find Google fascinating. That is in part because of its success -- Google's applications are very elegant. Furthermore, its products are powerful. It has been a cliche, but Google has become a verb! And the size of the company make it important to watch.

I have also become fascinated with search technology. Search today is so much more than search was before and it is one of those technologies that I don't think we can predict what will come of it. Would any of us have guessed that a search engine company would become a Silicon Valley mega-corporation? So I'll keep watching and looking for implications for governments.

Update: One kind reader was good enough (Thanks, CD!) to let me know that the transcript has been posted. If you don't want to have to watch the segment, you can read it.

Here is one of the quotes I was talking about:

DAVID VISE: I think one of the most important things for all of your viewers to be aware of is that every time they do an Internet search on Google, Google saves it on its computers. Every time, if they happen to use e-mail on Google through what's called G-mail or Google mail, all of those get saved indefinitely as well.

Think about for a moment billions and billions of searches being saved and being matched to your Internet address. Federal government investigators operating under the Patriot Act could get access to that kind of information all in one database about people. And it's a scary prospect to a lot of privacy advocates.

And what they advise is that people who -- I mean most people are not going to stop using Google because of a fear of privacy because it gives them free information fast. And it gives them relevant information fast. Most of the privacy advocates say that if you're going to continue to use Google actively as a search engine, you might be well advised to put your e-mail account someplace else because it won't be long before a divorce lawyer or someone else comes along and tries to subpoena the information that's in Google's database to try to prove that spouse who's been betrayed has actually got an Internet trail behind them of G-mails and searches that shows just how shadowy they were.


And this one:

JOHN BATTELLE: Well there's always more than one side. Google is saving all of this information because they're trying to make services and products that are better, more efficient, more -- make you more productive, that gets you the right answer at the right time to your search.

The more they know about you, they believe, the more they'll be able to give you not only the right answer to your search but also provide you with advertisements that are targeted to you, that are highly relevant and useful and of course very profitable to them.

But we are as a culture -- and that's why I created this idea of the database of intentions in the book -- we are creating records of our, you know, the bread crumbs through our use of the web that can be discovered by all sorts of entities.

And while we may trust Google -- and certainly most of us do right now -- it is a corporation. And corporations change management over time and change policies over time.

So "don't be evil" is a wonderful sentiment but it's not necessarily going to guide the company forever.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Dec 01, 2005 at 12:15 PM


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