Marketing Pilgrim published a blog post yesterday titled “Is Google Evil?” It was essentially a debate over whether Google’s virtues outweigh its vices. In the end, it was decided a draw. But I wonder, even had the vices outweighed the virtues, what would we do without Google?
Google’s motto to “organize the world’s information to make it universally accessible” is perhaps the one defining characteristic that we can rely on. The fact that we can debate whether Google lives up to its other motto – “do no evil” – means that we cannot really rely on them to be virtuous. But we can rely on them to organize the world’s information, and they’ve done that fairly well. At least, they’ve done it better than anyone else. If it meant being evil to do that successfully, would be willing to live with the evil?
I think we could advance the argument that most people who consider Google the evil empire probably do so on the basis of some perceived action by Google that has been unfavorable to them or someone they know. In other words, if you operate a website and you’ve been de-cached or your Google AdSense account was discontinued, etc. But Google doesn’t just penalize people without cause. There is usually a violation of policy somewhere, and if there wasn’t then I’d bet my last dollar that Google would reinstate the individual to favorable status if it was brought to their attention. That doesn’t mean the search engine hasn’t, and won’t, do evil things. It does mean that they take their mission to organize the world’s information seriously.
So I ask again, what would we do without Google? It was Google who taught us that back links count. It was Google that brought us the wholesale opportunity to advertise our businesses and choose what we are willing to pay for a lead. It was Google that made us realize that search engine spam can be tackled at the source and while they aren’t perfect at defeating it they do a nice job.
I know that Google is constantly seeking improvement. Sometimes they fail and institute policies that backfire or that don’t work. But they are organizing the world’s information pretty well and I know that if I need to know something really important I can search Google and within minutes have that pressing question answered. Without Google, I’d be living at the library.