torsdag 23 september 2010

Global leadership, a thought

I never knew if the older, bigger kids on the playground would follow the rules. In fact, I sort of thought they wrote the rules.

I'd like to reflect on Google. I kinda like them. But, as with the bigger kids, size frightens me, no matter how well-behaved they may be. I guess it's something with corporate play rules that denies me to accept Google as super duper friendly.

What really changed my perspective the other day was the realization that I have never, ever paid a cent to Google directly - and yet they make all their money from me and my consumer behavior. According to Wikipedia, 99% of their revenue comes from advertisement. So I guess their money comes from company ad spendings - and they obviously make their money on consumers in one way or another.

Certainly, many companies do not make a cent on end consumption. But this is different: anyone who consumes, funds advertisement. In short, everybody pays.

This is a bit comparable to taxes, isn't it? We all pay, and the community get something back.

( Does the community get anything back? Well, internet was given a brand new infrastructure when their search engine was released. And it may be table scraps, but they did raise our idea of free and functional to a new level. Hey, guess who provides me with this blog for free?)

So to build on this comparison, in my opinion Google resembles a government institution. They may not control roads or healthcare, but they certainly have an amazing degree of presence in and control over information infrastructure. Now they're investing in hardware too, and will have a good share of the future local base stations that provide broadband connections.

Sure, they aren't bound to national borders. Also, we don't elect them, they don't need to ratify UN decisions, we can't object when they set their own salaries or affect how the money is used -

- well, actually, that's the thing: in the end it's just another big old corporation, period, and they are very very present in our lives, just like twitter and facebook for that matter. And the neoliberals will say free markets ensured the people freedom of speech, while the socialists will curse the corporations for exploiting our need to be heard.

Me, I'm just going to enjoy reasonably benign leadership for now.