Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google this. (Reflections)

Google is showing us there is not only one approach, not only one way forward in China. There are legitimate options aside from capitulation -- options that uphold human decency and take into account ethical considerations while meeting company objectives. (Perhaps those conditions are themselves included among company objectives -- CSR, right?) Until now, you had to go in their way, whether you were gritting your teeth or happily diving into the pool. Well, it seems at least that Google is saying there are lines that should not be crossed -- that we are not willing to give up everything for this one market. (Even if it is the biggest potential market).

The Chinese government can try to pin this on Google, but I'm sorry, I don't think most Chinese people (or most other Netizens in the world) are going to buy the line that Google is some evil, imperialistic company bent on the destruction of the Chinese nation. Please, don't try to tell us that Google is a splittist terrorist organization, or that it hurts the feelings of the Chinese people. Such prevarications and falsehoods (oh screw that, such lies) won't work.

It's been too deeply ingrained in all of our minds that ... Google is good. Google is creative. Google is innovative.

We strive to be like Google. We aspire to create the next Google! How many children, how many countless CS and EE grads in Chinese universities, have looked to the story of Google for inspiration? (It's not only in China ... it's really a global phenomenon).

And this is not simply dogma or ideology. It's because we see, on a daily basis, this company innovating, reaching for new frontiers, attempting to expand human knowledge, make information more easily available, more useful, more accurate and relevant, for all of us. From basic search to collaborative documents to road maps to music, Google has demonstrated its commitment to putting information at our fingertips and making it easy to use. They literally democratized GIS and brought remote sensing to the masses with Google Earth. They try for good, too -- reducing deforestation and carbon emissions, assisting with public health alerts, creating power metering tools and promoting energy efficiency.

Google even brightens up our day with playful logos over its search bar. And more than that ... our classmates, friends and siblings work there. This isn't some mysterious black box; we know who they are. Google is composed of bright, talented, dedicated and creative folks, who hope to make a difference, and maybe do a little good in this world -- and have fun while doing it!

Google is the good guy. Are you really going to bash a leading embodiment of Silicon Valley right when it is living up to the Silicon Valley ethos? Does China want to be un-Google? (Or un-Googley as it were?)


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