This was a good book, albeit a bit too timid and constrained for my tastes. There have been some interesting articles recently tying Google's founding and original financing with the NSA/DIA/CIA? Also, various tech companies have capitulated to China, beginning with Jerry Yang's Yahoo (he's no longer with them) when Yang gave up the pro-democracy Chinese activist who then disappeared within the Chinese gulag system. As far as I know, Microsoft is still adding either advapi.dll or a similar NSA backdoor to their operating systems, likewise Apple. Most unsettling is that Bezos' Amazon has a $600 million cloud contract with the CIA, meanwhile he owns WaPo! Much to be disturbed about. . . . and remember, the tech companies really aren't our friends! [And tech companies like Narus, owned by Boeing, frequently sell sytems used to track down pro-democracy activists in Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, et cetera.]
It was written before Snowden, and the blog associated with it appears to be down, but its still very good. Its also a breathe of fresh air to read some criticism of the tech private sector for once (its interesting that libraries tend to toot their own horn about supposedly standing up to government agencies but they seem to be silent about the privatization of the libraries themselves by, ya know, cool and hip companies like google and its specific mindset). Tech people like googlers or hackers have become sacred cows and Vaidhyanathan accurately writes about how biased and self serving (and creepy) their way of doing things are. They need a good spanking. With all the criticism of the government (much of it merited), its interesting how two-faced, hypocritical companies like google can divert blame or accountability by tricking people into believing that blindly trusting the hip, fresh private sector that "gets it" is somehow revolutionary (I honestly have no idea what people mean by that word anymore) and should replace publically funded institutions. Thanks hacker and coder cult members, you really, really shouldn't have.
A fascinating and eye-opening explanation of Google and similar companies in human affairs. The suggestion in the epilogue is worth pursuing.
Vaidhyanathan is an astute critic of what he deems "techno-fundamentalism" and a champion of civil society and a meaningful global public culture. He is by no means out to destroy Google, and in fact is quite an admirer of what the company has accomplished. He just wants us to remember that it IS a company, and its duty is to make profits, not to be a force for good in the world. This book does a commendable job of laying out where to look for the biases and assumptions that underlie Google's accomplishments and points out ethical conflicts and hypocrisies where he sees them, touching particularly on Google's positions on net neutrality, surveillance and privacy issues in China, and the copyright quandaries of Google Books. Along the way, we get some memorable snippets of Vaidhyanathan's public service philosophy, such as, “Because we have failed at politics, we now rely on marketing to make our world better. That reliance is the height of collective civic irresponsibility. It’s a meaningless pose.”
All said, well worth reading, although the work probably could have been done in a 50-page essay rather than a 200-page book.
You always have to be careful about these things. Watch out, or one day there will not be a library ANYWHERE. :( Google rules the net now. |^^^| Just don't let them rule your life. Hope this is a good book! :D
Good book. Will have me taking a step back and remembering how privacy is important to me. Google isn't necessarily violating that but it's not protecting it either.......in my opinion
Argues for changes in the ways people sort and receive information online.
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