It’s hard to deny that some folks working at Google are geniuses. It’s also hard to deny the disconnect in their messaging.
As Google locked down their “open” ecosystem (compatibility as a club, abandonware, deleting privacy settings, extensions required to be installed from store, extensions required to be single-purpose, forced Google+ integration, knowledge graph scrape-n-displace, “We could either sue him or hire him,” etc.), I thought an interview of one of their open source evangelists would be entertaining.
Chris DiBona delivered:
Can you imagine if you didn’t have the malware protection and the process isolation of Chrome, that Chrome brought to other browsers? Can you imagine surfing the web the way it is right now? It’s pretty grim. There’s a lot of malware. You end up basically funnelling people into fewer and fewer sites, and therefore fewer and fewer viewpoints and all the rest.
There are many hacked websites, but sometimes large sites serve malware through their ads. Ad networks are one of the best ways to distribute malware. The super networks core to the web ecosystem are home to much of the malware – even GoogleBot was tricked into doing MySQL injection attacks. But even if we ignored that bit, it doesn’t take much insight to realize that Google is achieving that same kill diversity “goal” through other means…
…as they roll out many algorithmic filters, manual penalties, selectively enforce these issues on smaller players (while giving more exploitative entities a free pass), insert their own vertical search services, dial up their weighting on domain authority, and require smaller players to proactively police the rest of the web while Google thinks the n-word 85 times is totally reasonable on their own tier-1 properties.
We have another post coming on the craziness of disavows and link removals, but it has no doubt gone beyond absurd at this point.
Why is diversity so important?
Dissent evolves markets. The status quo doesn’t get changed by agreeing & aligning with existing power structures. Anyone who cares to debate this need only look at Google’s ongoing endless string of lawsuits. Most of those lawsuits are associated with Google (rightly or wrongly) taking power from what they view as legacy entities.
Even on a more personal level, one’s investment returns are likely to be better when things are out of favor:
“Investors should remember that excitement and expenses are their enemies. And if they insist on trying to time their participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.” – Warren Buffett
In many markets returns and popularity are inversely proportional
Investing in Internet stocks in 1999 was popular, but for those who stayed too long at the party it was a train wreck. Domain name speculators who bought into the carnage a couple years later did well.
Society is so complex & inter-connected that its very easy to think things run far more smoothly than they do & thus buy into to many fibs that are obviously self-evident until the moment they are not.
Popularity is backward looking, enabling the sheep to be sheared.
Unfortunately depth & diversity are being sacrificed to promote pablum from well known entities in formats that are easy to disintermediate & monetize.
Think about it: an actual scientist who produces actual knowledge should be more like a journalist who recycles fake insights! This is beyond popularisation. This is taking something with value and substance and coring it out so that it can be swallowed without chewing. This is not the solution to our most frightening problems – rather this is one of our most frightening problems.
– Benjamin Bratton