Sunday, December 31, 2006

THE LAND OF MAKE BELIEVE. In continuance of his War On Search Engines That Don't Ask His Advice Before Devising Holiday Graphics, the Ole Perfesser gets on Google for front-loading seach results.

Not on moral grounds, of course, but because a big mob of citizen journalists will rise up and crush Google if it doesn't behave. It's a power play, basically. Sometimes the Perfesser has to flex his muscle a little.

So he quotes some other tech dork who says Google better watch it and quotes yet another tech dork who says Google better watch it.

Neither Perf Reffed Dork 1 nor Perf Reffed Dork 2 -- nor, indeed, the Perfesser -- have any meaningful ad, traffic or other numbers to justify their warnings. Dork 2's post is actually a non-sequitur -- Google users are "dweebs" because they don't look for Britney Spears or Weather, haha! -- and perhaps linked in error; Dork 1 has a marginally more substantive complaint: that Google is acting like a big bad corporation, which it is, and all the while pretends to be Non-Evil, which it does, since Dorks of whatever numeration love to hear that shit.

But Dork 1 suggests that Google is by its predations is losing "trust," that magical fairy-dust, and suggests indirectly that said loss of fairy-dust will lead to something we've "seen... before [,when] Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft were the darlings of the valley back in the late nineties..." and the big crash that followed.

Those of us who remember the tech crash -- indeed predicted it -- also remember that it was fairly sweeping, and did not exempt companies that were Non-Evil. It exempted companies that offered things people were willing to pay for, which sort of company Google appears to be.

But Dork 1 Thinks Different:
Now Google is in the position of dominance, and they definitely have the arrogance that goes with it. But they are in a very difficult spot because of that damned motto ["Don't Be Evil"], and perhaps right on the tipping point where public opinion could change. More and more, people are hoping for Google to stumble. And every time they do, the press pounces. And they always point to the motto.
"People" and "press" are used more or less as synonyms here -- and actually, in our Glorious Blog Revolution, where the the Means of Production are held by the Wankers, I suppose technically everyone is "press." And maybe this is why our Dork thinks the complaints of the commentariat will cause all mankind (which is the same thing!) to dump Google out of sheer righteous indignation and avail search engines that are made by monks on organic server farms.

After all, if the Reagan Revolution taught us anything, it's that ethical behavior is much more important to ordinary consumers than pricing and performance. That's why everyone the Dorks know (and, by logical inference, the population of our solar system) has the Google motto by heart.

The Perfesser himself seems to believe the same ridiculous thing -- or his own, much shorter and funnier version of it. He hehindeeds:
I've noted declining trust in Google over the past year or so, and it seems that the problem is getting worse. Google should be a lot more worried about this than it seems to be -- all you need to do to take your business elsewhere is type a different URL.
Do check that "declining trust" link, where the evidence is... one Jonah Goldberg mouth-fart and a graphic link to (dare we say "paid product placement for"?)

With such slim evidence can "declining trust' be implied, because 1.) few people follow deep links, and so will not know how full of shit this one is, and 2.) the Perfesser's devotees are as reality-averse as he is, and inclined to believe, with or without evidence, that he and his buddies represent a groundswell.

This is not a defense of Google's hanky-panky, but a reminder that "citizen journalism" is less exempt from institutional hubris and bullshit than its cheerleaders tirelessly make it out to be.

The worst kind of pundits, I think, are the ones who are addicted to the idea that the whole world agrees with them, even in the face of contradictory facts. Pretty much the entire right-blogosphere displayed this behavior in the month before the 2006 elections (Use my own archive for examples!). That their arrogance leads to frequent and hilarious come-uppances does not excuse them, because they never learn from these reverses -- they just apply their arrogance to another area until time has passed and the coast become clear for their next beating of pots and pans on behalf of the Emerging Blogospheric Majority.

UPDATE. A correspondent takes exception to my use of the term "tech dork." I admire the strong feeling for standards and simple justice often seen at slashdot and other places where tech types gather. Anyone who stands for purity in this soiled world is going to seem a bit dorkish.

God knows I have. As a jacked-up little shit of a punk rocker, I used to think that the music industry was Moloch and that the truth was only known by guttersnipes. Had I been (and it would have been only just) killed by a falling stage monitor at age 20 and reincarnated as a tech guy, maybe I'd be dorking up a storm now, righteously wishful-thinking that Google's sellout will be noted and avenged by the masses.

So I agree that the tech dorks don't deserve my breezily dismissive attitude. The Perfesser's cynical use of them, on the other hand, deserves all that and more.

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