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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Let's talk about Google for a minute.
Google is, undeniably, a major component of our modern internet.  I can remember clearly the day I switched to Google from my previous search engine of choice, HotBot.  It was a miraculous difference: Google pointed me towards things I was looking for when no other search engine did.  When HotBot was saying things like "We removed the javascript that put your cursor in the search bar automatically, which saved us a bit of bandwidth, and no one really minds..." Google was making their site work better, seemingly at any cost. 

And it worked.  I can't imagine an internet without Google.  Microsoft cheats and lies and I cannot trust their Bing (and it doesn't work well anyway) and Yahoo hasn't really been useful for search in, like, a decade.

There is not likely to be a competitor to Google anytime soon.  The head start they have, their understanding of their users and search habits, is massive.  Any company that wants to compete has to do all the hard work themselves, rediscovering the things Google already knows, and I cannot imagine they'll ever create the same wealth of algorithmic intelligence Google has.

Consider this example from a recent Wired article:

Quote by Wired:
Google’s response can be summed up in four words: mike siwek lawyer mi.

Amit Singhal types that koan into his company’s search box. Singhal, a gentle man in his forties, is a Google Fellow, an honorific bestowed upon him four years ago to reward his rewrite of the search engine in 2001. He jabs the Enter key. In a time span best measured in a hummingbird’s wing-flaps, a page of links appears. The top result connects to a listing for an attorney named Michael Siwek in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s a fairly innocuous search — the kind that Google’s servers handle billions of times a day — but it is deceptively complicated. Type those same words into Bing, for instance, and the first result is a page about the NFL draft that includes safety Lawyer Milloy. Several pages into the results, there’s no direct referral to Siwek.

Check out this page for a lot of interesting trivia about Google's algorithms.

Google has hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who sit around all day and refine the rules that make search work.  And they've been doing it a long time.  How can anyone compete with that?

I fear the day Google turns on us.


Google Italy recently took a hit as a court their sentenced three executives to jail for a video uploaded to Italian YouTube. 


Google still hasn't left China.  This is good, as apparently Chinese scientists want to keep Google around:

A Nature News survey of Chinese scientists found that 84 percent of them thought losing access to Google would “somewhat or significantly” hurt their work process. Like their American counterparts, Chinese researchers use Google and Google Scholar to find papers and related information.

“Research without Google would be like life without electricity,” one Chinese scientist told Nature.

----

Meanwhile, over in Europe, two Microsoft shill companies have complained to European antitrust agencies about their recent demotions within Google's search results.  Basically, they're pathetic link/directory sites that no one likes, and Google - while revising their algorithms as they constantly do - ranked these sites far lower.

Basically, Google creates a better search engine for its users, and these little scum businesses - now affiliated with Microsoft, so I'm sure their intentions are pure - go berserk with rage. 

The company I work for recently got screwed by Google's changing policies and enforcement, but we didn't call a lawyer - we fixed our shit and got back to business.
BLEARGH
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Google China moves to Hong Kong
Google has moved its main Chinese search operations to Hong Kong, a Chinese territory which maintains much of the freedom it had under British rule.  Chinese searchers are redirected from google.cn to google.hk, and apparently this is (so far) completely legal under Chinese law.

Quote by Google Lawyer:
We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services

Every time I think that these actions by Google are akin to kicking a giant communist hornets' nest, I think there's probably a lot more going on behind the scenes.  Google seems forthright in their public discussion of the problem, but in a Slashdot discussion one commenter said something worth considering:  "Personally I believe we're just watching a dance that has long ago been choreographed to its conclusion."

So do I.  Google might be reaping a lot of good will over this incident, but I'm not convinced at all we're getting the whole story.

Google's top lawyer stressed that "all these decisions have been driven and implemented by our executives in the United States, and that none of our employees in China can, or should, be held responsible for them."

I wonder how well this will fly in China.  If ChinGov is actually being jolted and surprised by Google's actions, their employees are probably in line for a world of abuse from the gov't and its fanboys.

Quote by Slashdot commenter #2:
It's nice when what is right coincides with what is lucrative.

Yes, it is. 

This is a good show, and I'm enjoying it.
BLEARGH
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Member since Sep 2008 · 5 posts
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"Much" of the freedom?  Until there's universal suffrage and the elimination of functional constituencies, I would say that Hong Kong is just as free as Shenzhen sans firewall and the official presence of Commies.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: A Google/China Roundup
Third time lucky - I'm getting fucking tired of writing this only to have the content entirely LOST.  Holy fucking shit I'm pissed off right now.

Chuck: I can't believe freedom is black or white.  There's a world of grey areas between locked-in-prison incarceration and skipping-through-fields freedom.  Hong Kong is more free than China, in many ways.

Moving on to Google...

There's a lot of talk on the intertubes about Google and China lately, so much so that I haven't really been able to set any words down 'cause I'm still watching this show play out.  One thing I'm certain of is that what we're seeing and hearing is the public side of some very secretive machinations behind the scenes.

In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal interviewed Sergei Brin, a Google founder:

Quote by WSJ:
as Google began drafting its plan to send Chinese users to its Hong Kong site. He also said the idea to reroute users was "actually relayed to us indirectly from the Chinese government," although he declined to elaborate.

That ChinGov suggested this move on some level doesn't surprise me.  They must be aware of the tightrope they're walking, no matter how much they want to believe they are China! and can act how they please.

The move to Hong Kong doesn't change much though, really.  Kai Pan, an angry writer from the excellent China Divide blog, calls us idiots:

Quote by China Divide:
For those of you who are cheering Google on for uncensoring their search results for the Chinese masses, you’re idiots.

He points out rather succinctly three interesting things:  Chinese netizens could always reach Google.hk (and other Googles), they could always get uncensored search results if they looked, and that the blocking of the actual pages Google refers to in its results still exists.

A cowriter of his, Stan Abrams, follows it up with this:

Quote by China Divide:
But even if we realize that the Hong Kong move might be slightly underwhelming in its practical effect, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot more going on here. I think the Google move has very little to do with functionality but a lot to do with perception and public relations. Or at least that’s the way it’s turning out.

He goes on to deconstruct a few of the happy headlines he's found around the 'tubes, but firmly drives home the fact that this is a great PR move, but effectively changes nothing.

What's going on here is very interesting.  One of the world's most influential companies is performing a complex negotiation with a country that's huge and growing fast.  What's actually happening is resulting in success for both sides: Google is seen to be doing the right thing, ChinGov gets to banish the upstarts who won't play by the rules, but both sides are also losing.

ChinGove has to recognize that all of this noise is disharmonious.  It attracts attention to their censoring activities, raising awareness at home and increasing the distaste of people abroad for China, and potentially the things that come from there.

Google meanwhile is losing business in China, as it makes itself into a bit of a pariah.  One phone company has already canceled plans to launch an Android phone, and its remaining businesses in China are now facing a ChinGov which - while perhaps agreeable at the top levels - may have lower level beauracrats who cause them some grief.


According to Google's own page, ChinGov hasn't cut them off yet.
BLEARGH
This post was edited on 2010-03-26, 12:55 by NFG.
Author name #5
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User title: Kitten Blaster
Member since Feb 2010 · 89 posts
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now that google is back in china, shit seems worse than ever.

google suggest is blocked now.  -_-

i'm so sick of china because i havent seen ANYTHING good come from china.  low prices are nice but it has a large price behind your savings.  i'm ready to just give up on china altogether.
Author name #6
Member since Oct 2007 · 316 posts
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9,000 years of written history and you haven't seen anything good from China? Never used a compass? Never flew a kite? Never touched anything made of steel?

To be clear, I don't misunderstand your generalization. There's a lot to dislike about the industrial practices of modern China, but I'd personally appreciate it if you made the purpose of your criticism more specific and less vague. I think it's also worth mentioning that while China certainly deserves our scrutiny, they're not alone in their offenses. The only difference between China and any other manufacturing nation is that they don't pretend not to take shortcuts, not to abuse workers, or not to hurt the environment.
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Member since Feb 2010 · 89 posts
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[Content nuked by NFG: unfriendly, unhelpful]
This post was edited on 2010-08-03, 16:13 by Unknown user.
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Member since Jun 2009 · 25 posts
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In reply to post #5
Quote by Gravis on 2010-07-24, 01:51:
i'm so sick of china because i havent seen ANYTHING good come from china.  low prices are nice but it has a large price behind your savings.  i'm ready to just give up on china altogether.

does this mean you'd also be willing to give up purchasing products from America who use illegal Mexican immigrants? or Japanese products (which are sent to China/Thailand to be developed)?

I think in general because China, in relation to financial documents has always been so opaque and there are so many stories about the little pay and poor conditions the workers have, it is so easy to distrust anything coming out of the country.

But I believe little by little they are getting more globalised as an economy and taking on board some foreign country critiscisms
money cake..ayumyumyumyumyumyum
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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The problem with China is that it's impossibly large and impossible to generalize.  Some parts of China are improving and approaching global standards, some parts of China are actively avoiding such modernization, and other parts have already reached levels we would consider appropriate in our own countries.  You could divide China into ten equal chunks and each one would tie for 10th place as the most populous country on Earth.

The entire population of Australia and Canada combined is a rounding error against China.  Discussing China as if it was a single entity, as if your feeble brain could even comprehend the idea of getting a grip on the immensity of the place, is folly.

It's fun though.
BLEARGH
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