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Do No Evil

January 13, 2010

I remember sitting in my entrepreneurship class a few years ago, perhaps in 2006, when people were still marvelling at Google’s stratospheric rise from a startup to an MNC in less than a decade. I think I had just finished reading ‘The Google Story‘ and I was suitably impressed by the brilliance of its founders. I also remember the vehement fanboy-isms among my classmates on how Google had got everything right and how Microsoft was clearly an evil bully. Several discussions often ended with references to Google’s ‘Do No Evil’ policy. I remember being glared at in class for suggesting that people were so much in love with Google only because it made for such a cuddly David in front of the massive Goliaths that Microsoft, Sun & such were.

I have to admit, it was (and is) fashionable back then to be staunchly anti-Microsoft and I might have been more than slightly unkind to them. Yet, I also rolled my eyes at fanaticism towards Apple & Google. Perhaps, as a result of having worked in large corporations myself, I knew that the persona that Google projected in its early days would be hard to sustain as it grew bigger. And indeed, as Google became the big boy in the Silicon Valley, people worried about its clout, the weight it could afford to throw around and, predictably enough, were laudatory of the newer, smaller kids-on-the-block.

It has been a few years since, and I keep catching myself indulging in brand/tech fanaticism and evangelising (Firefox, Billmonk, WaveSecure have been a few of my favourite things). But I’m trying hard  to be more tame in swearing allegiance to ANY tech camp; experience has taught me that, in time, even the coolest of technologies can seem stodgy and outdated, so being open and somewhat skeptical is so much better.

But today, I’m going to indulge. I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy about Google thumbing its nose at China by taking a stand on freedom of speech – I am a fan of Google for not abetting the crackdown on human rights activists, as Yahoo has previously done in China. At a cerebral level, I am aware that such decisions are not necessarily made for ideological reasons alone, but because business might dictate it too, as several skeptics have pointed out and yet, at an emotional level, I just can’t help signing up onto the Google Groupies Foreva list (Ok, I jest, there is no such site or list. Sorry.) Even if this is merely a marketing tactic, to follow up on the somewhat underwhelming response to Nexus One, by God, what a bold move indeed.

Jokes aside, this is an important move, not only in technology and business, but in the political arena too. As Fallows rightly points out, this incident and the way it has got everyone talking about it, heralds the ‘Dick-Cheney era’ for China, the ‘bad boys’ if you may, while everyone fawns over the wunderboy that Obama is.

To get an inkling of the annoyance/outrage one might feel upon having information held back from them, try this exercise. And Do No Evil.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2010 4:13 am

    I applaud Google as well and I’m far from a tech fangirl, I was a total luddite just a few years ago and am still resisting cell phones…

    • January 18, 2010 4:00 pm

      It sure is a symbolic slap in the face, although how Google will pay for this is yet to emerge. Still resisting cell phones? Wow, good on you, girl!

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