inbound - 9:17 pm on Jun 6, 2011 (gmt 0)
Aaranged; Yes, I can see your point but my fears are based on companies feeling they will get an advantege by unveiling more data than they currently do - and doing that in a way which is simple for search engines to understand and re-use (also making it much easier for scrapers to get to your data). Also, there is a huge difference between a user seeing the data presented on a few pages of your site versus a search engine collecting the data from millions of records and then using it in any way other than to match your website to a search.
I'm not suggesting that information can't be extracted, of course it can be; I am concerned that we will see Google bypass more and more intermediaries by using the data to offer Google Services that compete with those giving away the data (let's ignore the matter of updating that data once it's been used in a competing service - that's a very long discussion).
I know my posts might seem anti-Google, that's because I am worried (as are many others) about the path they are taking. Remember that Google relies on automation and does not employ that many people for each $ they earn ($1.2M revenue per employee) - this means that jobs are being lost every time Google encroaches on a vertical, you might call this efficiency but those on the wrong side of that deal see their prospects diminished significantly (they may lose their job AND find the industry they know all about has lost carrying capacity).
I'm not the one I'm concerned about, what will happen to my employees or even to other decent, innocent people who are swept up in the upheaval that Google/Others is/are creating? If you live in an English speaking country (as the official language) then you're in a society that has a higher level of Information based jobs than average and has lost a great deal of "older" jobs that have moved overseas (manufacturing as an example). What happens to Information based jobs when a giant such as Google goes after that sector (think of the Analytics business)?
It's fairly obvious that "Western" economies are struggling, the last thing they need is for a few huge companies (who often do not pay dividends) to destroy the job carrying capacity of verticals.
The way economies work is being changed by large companies; let's say that a company manages to automate the role of an accountant and offers the service for free (in exchange for a lot of information about companies). We will see a significant percentage of (probably smaller) companies stop paying accountants. The company offering the free service will have to pay some people to deal with the service (writing the code, using the data, marketing it, customer service) but that number will be vastly smaller than the number of accountants (and their junior staff members) losing their jobs. This improves the profitability of the small businesses that use the free service but it reduces the number of people employed in the country. You could argue that the big company offering the free service will make money some other way and this wil offset the difference - that's not the case with cash hoarding mega-corporations, they keey their cash for big purchases (which financially benefit a small number of people and often lead to jobs being lost due to efficiencies).
So, by using free products or happily giving data to Google that could be used in future competitive sevices, we are feeding a system which ultimately reduces jobs and increases the income-disparity of nations (that's a bad thing to most people).
It's maybe unfair to point the finger at Google - as many companies' activities end up doing this - it's just the scale of the change that Google can make to an industry that scares me.