Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Google Public Policy Blog...with Comments!

I was reading The Caucus blog on the New York Times website this morning, and apparently YouTube's "redesign" has replaced user's picks with editor's choices, no doubt because of the flood of copyright infringement notices it receives every day. Editors have a much more discerning eye (we hope) for potential copyright infringement or potential lawsuits, so it only stands to reason that the glory of user-generated content would be muffled a bit by people paid to keep popular but illegal videos off the front page, as it were, and stash it somewhere in the back of the paper so people really have to dig for it. Given the short attention span of today, if it's not on page 2, it's of little interest.

Not surprising, really, as YouTube and Google have said they are working on filtering out copyrighted material. What better way to catch more of it than to remove the choice of the people?

Anyway, what caught my attention on the Google Blog while looking for some comment about YouTube's "redesign" was the Google Public Policy Blog. With articles in the news recently about immigration, and Google being a tech company it relies heavily on foreign workers, it doesn't surprise me Google has created such a blog. What surprises me is how long it took! Though, apparently, it was an internal blog and only recently went public.

The difference between the public policy blog and other Google blogs, however, is that the public policy blog allows comments. Comments! Interesting, don't you think? You can comment on Google's public policy. Not a hint of irony in that at all.

The blog touches on a range of issues you expect: immigration, censorship as a barrier to trade, the always popular debate on net neutrality and it's, how should I put this, unwillingness to support one candidate or party in this upcoming election. The Googleplex, as the blog makes readers know, has hosted both Mayor Bloomberg and potential Democratic candidate John Edwards. Sort of makes you think that Google will support a candidate, just before the election, who will make Google's policies law. Google's policies law, as in, for the USA.

Google and politics could turn out to be rather interesting. If you think about, big corporations always choose sides, and they always choose the side that best suits them. Little wonder that with a Republican president and, up until the this year, a Republican Congress, the broken up Bell companies are forming into one again. Mergers are occurring all over the place, giving big business back to the few.

Some see it as necessary against the onslaught of competition from abroad. Safety in numbers, as it were. Larger corporations have a better shot of staying competitive against overseas corporations than smaller ones, so it only makes sense to build up again. I believe the term for that is cycle.

At any rate, the Google Public Policy Blog ought to be very interesting, espousing the wisdom of Google and it tries to makes its public policy law. If it succeeds, I doubt those laws will stop at the US borders. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if international standards become more than a whisper, and other countries take Google's public policy at face value and adopt it as their own.

Hopefully people will stop and think, weigh the options, see if Google's policies will in fact be helpful rather than hurtful, but, well, that just might be asking too much now, don't you think? Why think for yourself when Google does the thinking for you?

Then again, with the comments enabled on the public policy blog, it gives the impression that people are still allowed to have independent thought. You don't agree with what has been posted, then, by all means, leave a comment. Google will take your comment into consideration and then figure out a way to spin the idea so that it sounds exactly like that you wanted to hear in the first place!

Maybe. Maybe not. Course, you can also think of Google's enabling of comments on its public policy blog as caving into its users who have clamored to comment on Google blogs but have been forced to do so in blogs like this one.

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