Practicing what you preach

It’s no secret. We all know that Google wants to take over the world, or at least keep all of it on file. We also don’t seem to mind. Why?

Well, it could be because the way they’re going about it is interesting to say the least. Just have a look at Google Street View. Yes, seeing your own house, street and maybe even a blurred-out version of yourself online may be a little unsettling, but it’s also really cool. Not to mention the fact that you can scope out a location you’ve never been to before going.

Is it really? Google is kicked out of China (image edited by Chris Zacchia)

While the fun and practical outweigh the creepy, there’s also another larger reason why no one seems to mind. Google doesn’t seem to want editorial control over what gets out there and don’t seem to be interested in pushing any particular agenda.

For example, a few months ago, Forget The Box published an article critical of Google’s attempts to catalog all books for profit. Recently, we put Google ads on our site (in an attempt to offset some of our costs) and if you go to that article, you see an ad (or at least I saw an ad) promoting another online bookstore.

Not only did Google not opt to censor this criticism of it from its search engine, but they’re willing to help us make revenue off it (and make some themselves in the process). This level of openness is reassuring and seems to permeate throughout the company.

Videos on sites competing with YouTube show up in searches just as easily and sometimes higher than those on the Google-owned site, opposing points of view are treated equally in all of their media and when Google does come out publicly on an issue, it’s one like Net Neutrality which speaks to the core of this philosophy of openness.

Until recently, though, this approach didn’t extent to all of Google’s operations, namely those in China. If you typed Tiananmen Square into their image search in the West, the first thing that showed up would be the famous pic of the protester staring down a tank. If you typed the same search words into a computer in China, you’d get a pretty picture of a pretty square.

Now, as you’ve probably heard, that has changed. For refusing to self-censor their Chinese content, Google was effectively barred from China after going into what became their self-exile in Hong Kong.

While it’s too bad that for a while Google’s Chinese carpet didn’t match its North American drapes, now it appears that it’s unfiltered style has won out over potential revenues gained through being available to people in one of the largest markets in the world.

People can once again take solace in the fact that our would-be digital overlords have a hands-off approach to all the information they are collecting. It’s a good thing to practice what you preach.

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