Increasingly, I’m getting annoyed with otherwise-intelligent people who simply don’t “get” what is happening as our world becomes hyperconnected and rail against it. The man in the photo is Henry Porter. He doesn’t get it. But a pseudonymous commenter at The Poll Bludger this morning does. And he explains it better than I ever have.
Ah, the contrast!
In a piece for The Observer, Porter’s headline warns that Google is just an amoral menace. The ever-growing empire produces nothing but seems determined to control everything, we’re told.
Exactly 20 years after Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote the blueprint for the world wide web, the Internet has become the host to a small number of dangerous WWMs — worldwide monopolies that sweep all before them with exuberant contempt for people’s rights, their property and the past…
One of the chief casualties of the web revolution is the newspaper business, which now finds itself laden with debt (not Google’s fault) and having to give its content free to the search engine in order to survive. Newspapers can of course remove their content but then their own advertising revenues and profiles decline. In effect they are being held captive and tormented by their executioner, who has the gall to insist that the relationship is mutually beneficial. Were newspapers to combine to take on Google they would be almost certainly in breach of competition law.
It’s worth reading the full rant — because it completely misses the point: I only found Porter’s piece because Google had told me about it.
Google didn’t “steal” his content. It produced a new audience member. And that’s what all media outlets produce: an audience for their advertisers — or, in the case of the ABC and SBS, an audience sufficiently large to justify their existence.
Ever though I think this one piece by Porter is full of shit, I clicked through, read about him, and discovered much better pieces about his concerns for our declining civil liberties and how the decline of one-way TV sets the scene for increased public debate. Porter now has a new reader because of Google.
However that commenter over at The Poll Bludger, yes, he got it right…