Google Beats FTC, Creates Whole New Tier of “Renegade-ism”
"As it became clear the FTC had its sights set on the company, Google recognized it had no choice but to mature or risk its own “Microsoft moment.” In the months to follow, the company embarked on a coordinated push to expand its lobbying balance sheet, donate more to lawmakers, connect better with public-interest groups and make new friends in the academic community, many sources told POLITICO.”
On one hand: It’s nice to see that Google matured past thinking their original defense: “We promise we’re trying to help the world, not hurt it” alone would beat FTC antitrust wing-clipping. Thank god. I love you. You make my life easy and, because you grew up, are still allowed to make my life easy.
On the other: my underground high school kid roots are flaring up just a bit, and a thin-but-there-for-sure blanket of sad nostalgia has settled around my perception of Google as a renegade. As Politico so eloquently put it, “the traditional outsiders worked the system from the inside.”
A single tear as an initial gut reaction. But waaaiiit a second…
In beating the FTC this time around, is the internet giant more or less of a renegade, and, as a result: more or less of an antitrust risk, more of less quickly moving toward a goal of untouchable global information monopoly?
Gut reaction 2: Probably more.
Now that Google has crystallized its ability to defend itself on a whole new playing field, (legitimate massive corporation vs. Silicon Valley tech startup) Washington politics are just one more complex, interconnected system for Google’s brilliant logical minds to frolic in, spider, organize, itemize, and…own.
Let’s face it: the company is based on mastering then commanding the most illogical, messy heaps of information systems. My prediction: Google will dominate (they’re already well on the way) the art of beltway manipulation into its back pocket. That system has already proven it’s prone to harboring untouchable forces, protected by a Kevlar web of favors extending from infinite sources, in infinite directions. What single force has ever been more equipped with minds and resources that specialize in working a system to its favor from absolutely every conceivable angle?
These next few months will be interesting. Google will undoubtedly continue to dominate the search and internet ad space, and will undoubtedly continue to grow. The sheer size and speed with which Google innovates will undoubtedly prompt additional rounds of FTC investigation—my bet—before 2013 is over. It’s inevitable. Google is big, fast, successful, and voluminously moving through uncharted legal/regulation territory.
Will this be the straw that finally forces all kinds of government and legal regulations camels to finally be legitimately re-examined and revised into the digital age?
I’m no longer torn: It’s still the digital Wild West, Google is still the renegade, and this victory opens up the door for some potentially pretty revolutionary changes in the way the technology/digital/internet landscape is regulated.
A whole new era opens up for checkin/location-based apps. CSR reveals plans to bring GPS down to the microlevel (think convention centers) to make device-tracking that much more detailed.
Mashable reported today that an Austin, TX advertising firm, Phillips & Co., recently rolled out a new service offering called Blue Marble. The concept? The company will install QR codes on the physical roofs of businesses in an attempt to leverage Google Maps and Google Earth as “free” advertising space.
It’s actually a really simple, elegant idea; I’m surprised we hadn’t already thought of it. It’s interesting, though, in its reminder that we just keep layering on entirely accessible, entirely integrated plains of virtual space and realities on top of our physical ones. Google Maps, Foursquare, Yelp, and many others can end up just serving as one more empty space to fill with graffiti, vandalism, or advertising. Fascinating.
I have a problem with the NYTimes article published last week, prodding and kneading the idea that we are gradually falling in love with, and becoming addicted to, the actual hardware composing our smartphones—particularly iPhones.
Well, two problems. First, the article discusses screening, testing, and other forms of human behavior and psychology research as though they were executed scientifically. And maybe they were, but the overall tone of the article is exceedingly casual…and it’s in the in op-ed section of the site. Call me a stickler, but citing research findings in perhaps the softest section of the news outlet seems a little off-kilter, a little like cheating, taking the easy way out, pulling a fast one, etc. Albeit on the slow end of the “fast one” spectrum.
Anyway—my much bigger problem is the wild jump across a gaping chasm between finding and conclusion in most of these studies. The studies describe growing conclusive data that humans are falling in love with machines because when they look at content on their smartphones, or become engaged with it, the human brain reacts pretty similarly to the way it does when we look at or engage with the humans we love in our lives. (Chemical and magnetic brain patterns were cited in the article.)
Presto! We must love glass and lead! The line between human and machine is finally blurring…look out generations-to-come; make sure you keep those robots and algorithms operating at only 2/3 human capacity to avoid a takeover!
But wait. Nowhere does the article take into account the fact that the iPhone is acting as a pretty effective conduit to our most cherished friends. I don’t know about you, but when I get a letter and see my Grandma’s handwriting on the envelope, I smile; I’m thinking of my Grandma. It doesn’t mean I love the envelope—it means I’m fortunate enough to have interfaces with her, other than face to face conversation, that respark our relationship from afar, and keep our friendship alive.
I’m venturing a bet that our brains aren’t experiencing anxiety over the loss of a device when we shatter that almost-defective iPhone screen or forget it at home—we experience anxiety over losing flexibility of access to the people we love most. It probably is "separation anxiety," as the article speculates, but because our frequency of contact with those we love (that we’ve become accustomed to because of the unspeakable glories of technology advancement contained within the devices, certainly) is cut off…not our physical access to the little portal itself.
I just saw this Wired article about Google’s newest algorithm tweak. Apparently Google just rolled out a feature to level the playing field a bit in the online news search visibility world. By embedding a “standout” tag in the header of a news article (there is a set of parameters and limits on the number of times a publication can use this tag per week) Google’s little crawlers will mark the news articles as such.
The consensus is this is an attempt both to make News more social, and to give smaller, local publications (especially newspapers) a better shot at higher search results than their NYT, Washington Post, and USA Today peers.
A little socialistic? Maybe…let’s see how well this is adopted.
God I love dubstep. For those who don’t know, Wikipedia describes it as a genre of dance music characterized by "tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals." The style originated in South London, some would say as far back as 1998. It spread to NYC and became a phenomenon here around 2006 or so, I believe.
Anyway—here’s why it’s excessively relevant to this blog: from a personal experience standpoint, listening to dubstep can be an ephemeral, *almost* physical experience. It can get intense enough to simulate what I can only describe as a vibrato, brain massaging affect. This is especially true if you strap on a set of headphones and pump in remixes of songs you’re unfamiliar with—suddenly all that matters are the actual physics of the audio experience. It’s these abrasive, though artfully organized, audio waves that feel like magic fingers opening up the faucets that release concentration, productivity, ideation…essentially anything that requires prolonged thinking, creativity and problem-solving.
Twitter made it official and announced another round of funding today, this time led by venture firm DST Global, and tapping once again into several existing investors.
There’s no doubt that Twitter is a lifestyle changer and revolutionary when it comes to tech, but what continually gets me is its seeming complete lack of any viable business model to incentivize investors. If not return-hungry, are these guys instead idealistic visionaries, happy just to support a company’s and people’s passion? I have to think: probably not.
So all that’s left is the data. Never before have we collected so much data, so deeply rooted in reference, fad, topical conversation, and human communicative behavior. Is DST investing in the microcosmic history book of our first world generation? I guess we’ll have to wait and see what gets done with this round of funding…and beyond, I’m sure.