Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

THAT’S what the FTC cares about?

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The Federal Trade Commission’s running an anti-trust suit against Google on the principle that its practices are anti-competitive. Okay, that’s all well and good, except Google only has 66% of the market and there’s nothing forcing anybody to use Google. Every browser – including Google Chrome – has built-in access to competing search engines. My own browser, Firefox, has Google, Yahoo and Bing as part of the standard toolbar.

But that’s not where I’m concerned. The issue to me is the language:

For example, if Google were to program its system so that a consumer’s search for “washing machines” is more likely to produce as its top result a link to Google-related shopping sites, that could be interpreted as putting its competitors at a disadvantage.

The rest of the article throws out platitudes how “technology is transforming our society” but that’s really the heart of what the feds care about. That bothers me. It bothers me because there’s a fundamental disconnect between how they see the internet and how lowly peons like me see the internet.

To me, the internet is a font of information. To them, the internet is a playground of consumerism. They don’t care about the fact that Google’s been collecting data on users such that the Chinese government had to call shenanigans. They don’t care that Google has more access to personal information than a federal agent with a court order, with no effective oversight. They care that Google might favor this consumer product over that consumer product.

To that I ask, who the fuck cares? There are more important things to bust Google on. Like how it’s almost impossible for the feds to bust Google’s data aggregation issues because most federal agencies use Google Apps. Our priorities are ridiculously skewed. But then, I suspect they’re not gigging Google on this because they want to do the same thing.

What Fourth Amendment?

We’ve Been Here Before

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The State Department got involved with Google’s issues with China, and China took note.

Setting aside the sovereignty issues of imposing what they view is an explicit attempt by America to undermine their media control – in that the US views Twitter, Google, YouTube et al as tools to encourage citizens of the world to clamber for freedom of press and expression – they simply point out that only once in their history has a foreign power succeeded at breaking into the Chinese market.

So the question I suppose is, is internet addiction as powerful as heroin?

Yeah, But Can It Prop Up a Desk?

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This, quite honestly.

Now, most of my job is in handling technology – some would assume that such is thus my lifestyle – but I have never been swayed by any glowing box smaller than a laptop and less functional than the computer I’m typing from now. I hate cell phones, let alone the gadget conglomerations packaged as cell phones called iPhones or Sidekicks (Has no marketer ever heard of feature creep? Seriously, nobody uses 90% of your “apps”) but nothing takes the cake like the Kindle.

Way back in 2002 when I was suffering the frozen hellhole of Cornell (in the words of Jon Stewart, no less) I took a course in English that had the word “technology” in its title on the course catalog. I thought to myself, “Hey, here’s a forward-thinking professor wanting to rap to us about Web 2.0, blogging and the general state of New Media in creative writing” as, after all, it was one of those “not your run-of-the-mill English classes.” Read the rest of this entry »

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