Google in context

Evil PlansLast night I read Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination by High MacLeod. As a follower of his blog and his art I looked forward to his new book and read it in a single sitting. I have a plan to actually review the book in a future post, but I’m not making any promises.

This post however, spawns from a single throw-away aside on page 152:

When Google – the most successful advertising business of the world – started their company, their founders knew practically nothing about the inside workings of Madison Avenue.

The context of this sentence is to illustrate his point that being an outsider to an industry can be a good thing since if you know too much you’ll make the same mistakes as the people who know “everything” about that industry.

Still, that’s not what caught my eye. Go back and read that sentence again. Did you catch it this time?

MacLeod doesn’t describe Google as a search engine company as most people see them. He, quite nonchalantly, and I would agree completely correctly, describes them as an advertising business.

Now, I’m not criticizing Google here. They make money through the ads. But the service they provide is so good that the majority of us just don’t care. I present on Google regularly, and one of my next books will most likely be solely focused on Google search, but this line still caught me off guard.

In this age of budget problems, and constant tax reductions, what if the library’s services were so good the people completely stopped thinking about how we’re funded (taxes) and just funded us so we could keep providing such amazing services?

The next question is, what’s your evil plan for making your library that successful?

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4 Replies to “Google in context”

  1. Really? Some of us have offhandedly noted, when it’s appropriate, that Google is really an advertising company that uses search to make its ads visible. I’m a little surprised that you were caught off guard.

    If people “completely stop thinking about” how public libraries are funded, won’t they be an even easier target? I must be missing something…

  2. Ah Walt, it’s so wonderful when you comment as you always make me clarify and defend myself. Let’s see how well I do this time…

    Google as advertising company:
    Yes, you and I, and many others in the field know that Google makes money through advertising. However, I know that if asked “what is Google” I would generally answer “search engine” and then follow-up with “advertising” if asked how they made their money. I *know* these facts, but I’d just never heard “Google is an advertising company” stated so matter-of-factly as it was in the book. I’d also guess that even though you know these facts too, you’ve never actually described Google as an advertising company, completely leaving the whole search thing out of your definition.

    To stop thinking about how libraries are funded:
    This one is a little harder and I think I might have been stretching a little too thin here to tie everything to libraries. However, I wasn’t saying that in general, forgetting how libraries are funded was a *good* idea just maybe an appropriate method for dealing with a certain type of person when it comes to funding government (which we are in most cases) with tax monies. For that certain type of person (I don’t like to fond anything with my money that helps other people,) maybe getting them to forget that we’re tax-funded would work. Would this be a good idea as an overall strategy, definitely not.

  3. Ah Walt, it’s so wonderful when you comment as you always make me clarify and defend myself. Let’s see how well I do this time…

    Google as advertising company:
    Yes, you and I, and many others in the field know that Google makes money through advertising. However, I know that if asked “what is Google” I would generally answer “search engine” and then follow-up with “advertising” if asked how they made their money. I *know* these facts, but I’d just never heard “Google is an advertising company” stated so matter-of-factly as it was in the book. I’d also guess that even though you know these facts too, you’ve never actually described Google as an advertising company, completely leaving the whole search thing out of your definition.

    To stop thinking about how libraries are funded:
    This one is a little harder and I think I might have been stretching a little too thin here to tie everything to libraries. However, I wasn’t saying that in general, forgetting how libraries are funded was a *good* idea just maybe an appropriate method for dealing with a certain type of person when it comes to funding government (which we are in most cases) with tax monies. For that certain type of person (I don’t like to fond anything with my money that helps other people,) maybe getting them to forget that we’re tax-funded would work. Would this be a good idea as an overall strategy, definitely not.

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