[Foundation-l] In defence of Google

Gerard Meijssen gerard.meijssen at gmail.com
Sat Jan 20 07:48:20 UTC 2007

Anthony schreef:
> On 1/19/07, George Herbert <george.herbert at gmail.com> wrote:
>> You're giving several people the impression that you are trying to bag
>> on several corporations.
> I'm not even sure what it means "to bag on" a corporation, so I guess
> I'll take your word on it.
>>>> This is not the place for merely bagging on the corporations.  It's
>>>> one of many places where real serious discussions could start on what
>>>> to do next.
>>> Well, this isn't the place for praising corporations either, then.
>> It's not praising them to note that they're an integral part of how
>> the Internet's typical user experience works, and how Wikipedia is
>> being used by typical users.
> It is praising Google to claim that "Google did a world of good to the
> Open Content movement".
> Google is in no way a part of the open content movement.  In fact,
> much of what they do is directly opposed to the open content movement.
>  APIs that can't be used without agreeing to a highly restrictive
> terms of service, patents which inhibit others from building upon
> their innovative approach to search, tons of content all Copyright (c)
> Google with all rights reserved.  They even throw their watermarks and
> copyright notices on public domain content trying to claim it as their
> own.
> Google runs a search engine that is smart enough to put Wikipedia
> articles at the top of searches for which a Wikipedia article is one
> of the most relevant results.  Whoop-de-do, that's not doing a world
> of good to the Open Content movement, that's making a popular search
> engine so you can sell lots of ads.
> Anthony
The open content movement is not living in a vacuum. When you insists on 
everybody to behave like you would see the world and be overly negative 
about everyone that is not like that, you must live in a frustrating 
world. Google did and does a world of good. It is not an open source 
organisation but it has played a crucial role in making us what we are. 
It has contributed significantly to Open Source projects. One of their 
best policies is that they create their software in such a way that you 
can move away from Google if you so choose. If you want to reduce it to 
only "they did it for their own reason" fine, but you do not convince me.

In the mean time, the WMF has a problem that is increasingly serious, we 
got a million and a bit out of our fund-raiser where we need a million 
and a half. Where we could use a million and one more. We predict that 
our growth is exponential. In my mind the biggest problem we have is a 
culture where other organisations, particular organisations that earn 
money are trash talked. Whoop-de-do that is just like it is baby; 
freedom of expression. And yes, but it is utterly irresponsible. In the 
case of Google, they made us and continue to make us as big as we are, 
and your aversion to selling ads does not detract one iota from that. 
They did not have to do such a thing. Were they in the pocket of the big 
content owners, they would not have done so and consequently we would 
not have been the big relevant movement that is changing the way people 
look at Open Content and licensing in the first place.

I started this thread because to me it is essential to understand who 
our friends are. It is important to understand with whom we share 
values. It is important to understand for whom Open Content and Open 
Source can become more relevant and why. By engaging our friends and our 
could be friends, it is possible to increase the relevancy of what we 
do. We increase the potential for the WMF to realise its aims. It is sad 
that some choose to have such a narrow negative view on the world that 
they destroy opportunities. It is a fact of life that they are part of 
our community and it is for that reason that I feel it is necessary to 
repeat; Google has been good to us.


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