Sunday, December 02, 2007

So much for "Don't be evil"

So much for "Don't be evil", supposedly Google's "motto". As described in Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

"Don't be evil" is the informal corporate motto (or slogan) for Google,[1] established by Gmail inventor Paul Buchheit[2]. Paul, who suggested the slogan in a meeting, said he "wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out," adding that the slogan was "also a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent."

"Don't be evil" is said to recognize that large corporations can often maximize short-term profits with actions that destroy long-term brand image and competitive position. By instilling a Don't Be Evil culture, the corporation establishes a baseline for decision making that can enhance the trust and image of the corporation that outweighs short-term gains from violating the Don't Be Evil principles.

I was cruising along happily in the blogosphere as Sophmom, with all my Sophmom activities tied to my soph underscore mom at yahoo dot com email account. This included my primary blog that I'd very happily maintained at Blog-City since June 2004. Initially chosen for its ease of interface, I'm happiest there because of the wonderful (and personal) customer service (blessed Mayoress) and what can only be described as excellent search results (Google Gods please don't get too mad at me for this post). It was only logical to have a Sophmom's Dotcalm at Wordpress just to prevent anyone else from confusing the matter, which I did at Blogger as well (obviously). Now, Wordpress lets anyone comment and leave links, but some blogger blogs only allowed comments by those with blogger "accounts" so it made sense to have one. Since I was leaving links to this blog from time to time, I figured I should post something here, so I do (not particularly often - but I do); although usually (or at least once upon a time) when posting anywhere, I post as Blog-City Sophmom.

It started for me when I decided that I needed a Gmail account in my real name. Now, there was an element of not wanting anyone else to have it, but I also thought that I might migrate some of my Yahoo activity to Gmail, having heard good things about it. Then the oddest thing started happening: no matter how many times I signed in to my Google toolbar or blogger using the Yahoo email account, once signed in, I was automatically reverted to being signed in to my Gmail account. I don't like the notion of mixing Sophmom and my real name online, even if I'm the only one who sees it because I've spent three years working hard to keep them apart. I have my reasons and they're important. Lots of people who read my blog know me in "real" life and I've actually broken bread and lifted a glass with plenty of folks I've met online. But there are one or two (okay, exactly two) people in this world who, if they realized *I* am Sophmom, would just take all the fun out of it. But that's beside the point. I should be the one who gets to decide which of my email accounts is tied to which of my blog accounts and Google has taken that out of my hands and forces me to default into their product(s).

Then the commenting format changed, this weekend, without so much as a "Yoo hoo, y'all, we're gonna change it up a little," from the "Don't be evil" folks in Mountain View. Suddenly, when commenting on any blogger blog, I can't comment as Blog-City Sophmom, but must post as either a linkless guest ("nickname" - how lame is that?), anonymous (on blogs that allow it) or as blogger Sophmom. Now, I'm smart enough to figure out how to put an html link to my real blog in the body of the comment, but, still, it's just so, well, evil. It’s short-sighted and violates the spirit of the internet that Google, from the beginning, has claimed to embrace.

I'm sorry, y'all, but when Google gets to decide which email I use to sign in and which blog link I leave when I comment, they've taken a choice away from me, stepped over their own line, violated their own standard.


Suburban Oblivion has also posted about this.


zen wizard said...

The problem with "Don't be evil" as a dictum is that it begs the question, "What's 'evil'?"

In Google's case, I am sure the answer is a "circular logic" one--i.e., "Evil is what we say it is."

I think you are trying to say that to some small degree, they might be guilty of "restraint of trade" or more correctly, "restraint of commerce" in the ancient definition of commerce, which I would say would include restraint of commumication.

So, yeah, long story short, they and every other corporation that exists solely for a bigger market share are "evil."

Robin said...

OOooo, everyone's getting mad at Blogger.'re on Blogger...I gotta do this, then:


The Fool said...

Hey there, Soph. How did I get here.? This isn't where I usually end up when connecting off your profile... It must be a Google-type-thing, eh? Those folks sure have the clout (and the tabs on all of us). find my way to your other haunt...

sophmom said...

Zen, see my new post about this to answer your thoughtful comment. Also, over at my actual blog (the one I call home;), there's a post that made me think of you. ;)

Robin, thanks for stopping by. I'm still pissed, even more so now that I've had some time to see just how much it's affecting my browsing / blogging. Harumph!

Dear Fool! It's a terrible mess but it seems like now they're trying to fix it, as I see we have yet another new interface for commenting. YIKES!


One last time: Dotcalm

Zena said...

Well written article.