Geert Lovink | 14 Mar 20:30 2012

rise and decline of Google

Seen these?

"The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that  
empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an  
advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus."

It just doesn't stop.

Then my eye fell on a big add in the Pravda (WSJ for the clueless) by  
an organization called Fair Search.

Extensive website.

Their add in the WSJ of March 9 2012 is the most mainstream version of  
our critique of free and open yet. It says: "Think Google's free?" It  
is a business critique that I have heard more often (anti-competitive,  
destroying my business etc.) combined with the privacy and monetizing  

I also noted that Google started to buy adds in our local Amsterdam  
newspaper Het Parool to promote their AdSense etc. products.

Which reminded me of the recent (second) rejection by EU to fund our  
small alternatives to Google initiative, led by Felix and Konrad in  
Vienna. It seems very hard to fund any alternative research in this  
direction. We at the Institute of Network Cultures contributed as well  
with the Society of the Query event, in Vienna there's Deep Search,  
there are efforts in Bangalore, Rene Ridgeway and so on.

I keep on collecting material, researchers and initiatives in this  
direction. Search seems to be so crucial, yet so abstract and  
invisible somehow, in comparison to the funky social media such as  
Facebook where people spend a lot of time. Search is almost  
subconscious. You go to the engine, type, klick and you're already  
somewhere else. And now this crisis at Google (a long one in the  
making, of course). What would Google do? Decline. This only makes our  
distributed efforts to look into the political economy of it all, and  
into the alternatives, more urgent.

Such a pitty we cannot get our act together (yet). If you have the  
golden funding tip, contact one of us!

Yours, Geert