The growing feeling that I'm a footsoldier in the ongoing Apple v Google v Microsoft v Amazon war is depressing.

I stopped working at Google in 2006 but I only stopped loving it this month. I've frequently defended the company in public, explaining unpopular actions from what I imagine their side is. Google has often been in the right but the company is terrible at explaining itself. I felt with my understanding of the company I could do some good in clarifying the discussion. No more.

This last month has been particularly hard for Google lovers. I took the company's side in the Kenya mobile fiasco up until the company admitted that, indeed, employees were lying to steal customers from Mocality. Then the big stories about Google Search+ and Google's new privacy policy. I think one is actively bad and the other is mostly harmless, but both changes are so complex and unpleasantly self-motivated it makes me sad. So now when I read about a friend getting terminated from AdSense with no explanation I just get a headache.

I imagine half of my readers are smugly thinking "See, I told you Google was evil all along". I don't think that's right. In particular I refuse to give in to a cynical view of Google's "Don't be evil" motto; that ethos was very real, a sincere and important guiding principle. And if a big company like Google can't avoid being evil, then what world-changing enterprise can? But I think Google as an organization has moved on; they're focussed now on market position, not making the world better. Which makes me sad.

Google is too powerful, too arrogant, too entrenched to be worth our love. Let them defend themselves, I'd rather devote my emotional energy to the upstarts and startups. They deserve our passion.

  2012-01-30 19:50 Z