Only Sergey Brin would know the answer to this question and he is not likely to provide it to this lowly blog. Unless one is an atheist or an anarchist, Barack Obama, the President of the United States, is placed at a higher position in the global hierarchy of power than ordinary citizens but on a slightly lower rung than God. Brin, also enjoys a high position on this global hierachy but is he more powerfull or important than the President?
As co-founder of Google, Brin controls the dissemination of modern knowledge. A recognition of the power of knowledge dates back to the Book of Proverbs. Modern society was informed by the study of methods of acquiring and utilising knowledge. Since Plato, epistemological theory and debate concerned with the acquisition and use of knowledge underpinned human endeavors from the expression aspirations to the organisation of society.
Ethical action, or the way in which people should act, and politics, or the proper construction of society, were dependent upon epistemological inquiry. The methods used to acquire knowledge were as important as the knowledge itself because they involved the use of cognitive processes such as reason, validation and the ability to utilise selection criteria in order to distinguish true knowledge from that which is false. In the 21st century it could be argued that it is Google, rather than the processes of epistemological inquiry that shape humans and human endeavour.
Google states that its mission is to organise the world’s knowledge. But their aim is to organise global information – and then put advertisements on it! Google now dominates globally in its core business-advertising. As noted in the video, Brin states that Google wants to be the third half of a person’s brain. This is seriously CREEPY and moreover, the fact that they do not realise this aim to be more than slightly problematic is actually very sinister. Their propensity for disregarding issues that do not fit their ‘world view’ such as individual privacy, the well-being of other companies and national laws is worrying a lot of people and quite a few governments.
Admittedly, Google a use brilliant strategy: It provides the latest technology free to uers and then use it to track their preferences and target advertising using this information. In the past two years this business model has become increasingly salient in advances in Google technology. For example, two years ago Google announced that it wanted to make ads more interesting. In Google’s world this meant that simply that there is no such thing as a free lunch!
One commentator remarked that missing from what users should know and control about the new function to ‘make ads more interesting’ are the applications Google uses to develop the advertisements so it can target and collect data‘. Forward on two years and it appears that Google are more concerned with their advertising than not only issues concerned with privacy but playing fair or even national laws designed to protect consumers. Confronted with the inconvenience of being caught with its hand in the cookie jar, Google simply pays to ‘make it go away‘. Undoubtedly this business model has been profitable for Google.
Copious emerging evidence supports the conclusion that Google’s organic search is not organised according to either the breadth of global knowledge or by algorithmic calculation. It is organised according to what Google consider is important and the measure of importance is well, what ever Google decides. Moreover, Google’s untrammelled quest for world dominance appears to be based upon a business model devoid of anything as mundane as concern for the fundamental rights of consumer safety or privacy– the very people that use Google and drive its substantial profits or indeed any sense of corporate business ethics. One could suggest that from Google’s perspective users of their products are not people but simply units of data.
Google controls the dissemination of global knowledge: It has become the the new episteme. But this does not answer the question of ‘does Sergey Brin believe he is more important that the President of the United States’? Consider two entries on a website that accuse two powerful men of allegedly criminal activities. One of these men is at the helm of a powerfull company and the other is at helm of a powerful nation. The website Ripoff Report openly states that it publishes false information and refuses to remove it (see the judge’s decision in this US case). Yet ‘removal’ according to this website is an exercise in semantics. A number of ‘reports’ about the President of the United States, Barack Obama are published on that website but this post is a defamation attorney’s dream. Note that the original author actually tried to ‘take back’ what was written and yet it remains on the website. However, a Ripoff Report that accused the co-founder Sergey Brin of well, tacky conduct (at the very least) was altered.
The report was noted on a blog entry in January 2008 by a well known SEO writer. As soon as it became public the name of Sergey Brin was changed to Soney Bonoi but the report still appears in the Google SERPs for the term ‘sergy brin california’. The attorney for the editor of Ripoff Report, Ed Magedson (try googling his name), stated in court documents that the name of Sergey Brin was indeed altered on the Ripoff Report. I guess the ability to chill freedom of speech is just one of the perks of owning a company that controls global information.
The victims of Ripoff Report who have faced the wholesale destruction of their reputation through a listing of their name couched in terms such as ‘ripoff’ , ‘scam’, ‘fraud’ etc at the top of the Google SERPs do not enjoy the ability to command such an edit. But of course they do not own Google, and are therefore simply collateral damage in the grand cause to organise global information and fly the flag for freedom of speech.
But one has to question why the above mention ‘report’ about the President of the United States, Barack Obama was NOT given the same consideration. Maybe Google did not ask for it to be altered. Google do organise the world’s information. Clearly they found the ‘report’ on Sergey Brin. Barack Obama is hardly inconspicuous, and Ripoff Report is not simply an obscure website in the outer reaches of cyberspace (like this blog). Perhaps they do not consider that he is all that important in their world view.
Thanks and acknowledgement to the author of the video.