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"In The Plex" - getting a clearer picture of what Google IS



5:20 pm on Aug 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

If anyone wants to sail, then they need a real appreciation for the ocean. If they want to go backpacking, they need knowledge of the woods and terrain, and the more accurate the better.

We want to use Google organic search results as one way to market our web businesses, and yet we often have a very unrealistic idea of what, exactly, Google is. And when we operate under false assumptions, sooner or later we can get crushed.

For this reason I work very hard to build a realistic model of what Google is as a business - and what they are not. No kool-aid for me, but no knee-jerk negativity either. Both are distortions and will lead use astray.

I'm currently about 200 pages into a new book called "In The Plex" by Steven Levy, published April 2011. It's good stuff, and I recommend it for anyone who is trying to appreciate what Google is and what they are not.

Google can be very secretive. This is something the book makes clear, as if anyone should ever had any doubts that any business (and especially a tech business) needs to keep some secrets. Especially in the early days, Google hid their rapid growth in size as new data centers were being added. We saw them buying all kinds of fiber networks but we couldn't really see why. The book explains.

The online age itself is disruptive, and within that realm Google itself is quite disruptive. They question every traditional assumption, including what a search engine "should be". They are data driven, and if an innovation tests well, they will go with that. So don't build your business expecting an old-school search engine here. That they will never be.


8:21 pm on Oct 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Depending on Google or any corporation to act ethically is IMO irrational. Yes, they would cooperate with the NSA, spy on people, put their own products first, manipulate their product, and whatnot. How many big corporations have NOT done those things? Maybe people have just never read any literature. I suggest reading Sinclair's "The Jungle" or Trollope's "The Way We Live Now" to get an idea of how corporations have historically acted, although it's true--these are the sort of books a sheltered PhD would read.

The job of a corporation is to make money and sometimes they even break the law--or manipulate those who make those laws--to do that. My job is to figure out how I can on the one hand prosper and on the other keep from getting smashed whenever Google shifts in its sleep. If I get all het up about it, I will not be able to do that job effectively.

Agree with you 100%. Sometimes though, they are stopped by the law, like Microsoft was stopped in 1990's and like they'd be stopped again if they banned Chrome from Windows for example. We can talk about this here of course, since it's a thread about Google's "clearer picture." People can disagree on what that picture is, but as I said, I agree with you.


7:32 am on Oct 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

An observation ...

I have to say that the fact that you guys agree with this and if not condone it at least accept it as a fact of business life does not make it any more acceptable to me. Yes, corporations do do this but they must be exposed wherever possible and dealt with to the full extent of the law when caught.

When companies are allowed to operate above the law we get Exxon and Union Carbide situations because in some boardrooms people are considered to be dispensible.



7:48 am on Oct 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Here's another example of what they can do ...


4:24 pm on Oct 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

HRoth: I am sorry if I was overly negative... I am just frustated/confused. I feel like no one is doing anything or maybe they just don't understand what is happening. Or are they in denial? The "organic" results space on Google's results pages are exponentially decreasing every year so they can put in their own content - [seobook.com...] And their recent push into the content game is going to make things worse. Eric Schmidt basically admitted they were a monopoly. And they are currently using that monopoly to gain leverage in their own businesses. This is illegal. This is horrible for other businesses and horrible for your business.

Yet, aside from Aaron Wall, no one does anything about it. There is no concerted effort to switch to Bing, Blekko, etc. No one in the tech media calls Google out on this behavior... Even the ones in the know like Danny Sullivan and Rand Fishkin don't even say anything. It is frustrating... Stand up for what is right... or at the very least stand up for yourself.

You are right though. It is irrational to expect a corporation to be ethical, but I believe it is even more irrational when you are the one being compromised and you don't do anything about it.


6:03 pm on Oct 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

With Larry Page now running Google, it also gives a preview of things to come. That it, expect things at Google to change more rapidly than they have before, because he isn't very concerned with investors or hitting profit targets, he wants to change the world. That means he is into doing risky things.

You won't be disappointed by the book. The last part drags a bit - gets bogged down by the issues around Google wanting to scan every book in the world - but the rest of the book is great.

mkelly, was this in the book? I might buy it after all. I am trying to understand the Google earnings increase under Larry, perfectly coupled with the decrease of traffic to all of non-Google sites [webmasterworld.com...] --28% increase in a year and 16% in 3 months. Could they have some sort of self-learning algorithm test to see how the world changes as they take more and more money via Google ads at our expense?


1:47 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

BeeDeeDubbleU, I could not agree more that much of what corporations do is hideous, immoral, damaging to society and the environment, and more. I believe the corporation's rights as "person" must be destroyed and that the recklessness of businesses should be reined in by regulation. But I also believe it is not my job as a businessperson to do this. It is my job as a citizen. As a businessperson, my job is to make a living--for me, in an ethical and pleasurable way. My job as a citizen is completely different, IMO. It's not that I think these two jobs are mutually exclusive, but I don't see the point of railing against the antics of Google when we have to first survive those antics as businesspeople. If we don't do that, it will be more difficult for us to work against those antics as citizens.
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