Sunday, January 6, 2013

How Google Could Change the World Instead of Exploiting It

The world is just getting a mite too standardized and bland for me.  If you write a blog and want to get firmly ensconced in Google’s search results, you write the first 100 blogs or so for Google and they’re packed with the same keywords or phrases. You get traffic quite quickly, which is terribly exciting at first, but after a while the fizz kind of flattens. Because all that lovely traffic is reading blogs you’re not proud of. 

Plus, there’s nothing worse than getting to the point where you know that if you stick a phrase you’ve used a gazillion times before into a sentence that doesn’t really need it one more time you’ll throw your laptop at the nearest breakable thing, probably the TV. For one, how will you make it through the evening?  

Here’s the thing about Google. It has a huge fan base, on whom the original ethos of the company has become so branded that they’re hard-wired into believing that anything to do with Google is creative. The hard-wiring makes it impossible to see that what Google is doing with its creativity is creating a global environment and culture which functions partly by creativity being totally stifled by standardization. So Google gets to stay creative but we don’t.  

Hmm. They can be creative about how they put themselves in front of us but we can’t be very creative about how we put our individuality in front of the world. If Google is so smart why can’t they come up with algorithms that recognize originality and give it precedence over crap? I’m sure the whole world would give them a standing ovation for that.  

A different kind of algorithm must be possible. But they’re making their money the way things are. The more standardized we are the less we think for ourselves, and the easier it is for them to exert their power and trample over our rights to privacy and competition etc.  I'm disappointed. Google could do so much with its power. They could change the world. How many organizations have that capacity? 

This makes me think of Pick n Pay in South Africa, started by an entrepreneur Raymond Ackerman. Everybody loves Raymond. I don’t, though, and not only because on national television when asked what he does for relaxation he said he plays golf to get away from his wife – who was sitting right next to him. His face went into a kind of psycho-twist when he said it. She went stone cold. Humiliated. 
Apart from that, I don’t like how Ackerman got so powerful. Before he came up with his brilliant idea to create one-stop shopping, there were probably hundreds of thousands of Mom and Pop businesses selling the individual goods. Competition was alive, and small people could earn a living, in a variety of ways. Nothing standard about that.   

Then along came Ackerman with, admittedly, a creative brain and a lot of drive – admirable qualities. But of course pretty soon he could buy goods at a discount because he bought in bulk. And if you were a small business, his stores might stock your product, but they’d squeeze the price, and they wouldn’t pay you for three months.  
So the profit Pick n Pay made went into their lovely bank account, and they used it to expand and get bulk goods even cheaper. As a small producer you were left without a cash flow and unable to compete anyway. What happened to all those people? Who knows. Now South Africa is stuffed with ugly, standardized stores often staffed by rude, unhappy people and the quality at least of the food and vegetables is lousy. 
The marketing is creative though.