Thursday, January 26, 2006

Googling its way into the zeitgeist

If you pick your stories by their controversy-meter, how many times has the search yielded The Search? It's probably been up there consistently, the blue-eyed company of every venture capitalist and startup-hungry entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.

In its sweeping ambitions of a Web-connected world and global online library, Google seems to have missed the small print.

This week, it has been at the centre of a storm from two very different markets. While parent country US wants a random sample of searches to see how Google might be inadvertently aiding child pornography, China's stringent entry norms have forced the otherwise cool dude to self-censor its content for the Chinese subsidiary.

The company's response narrates the pressures of performing in a global marketplace. While the US government got the thumbs down for its "privacy infringement" proposal, Google lamely kowtowed to Chinese whispers.

It's disheartening to see a company that's shaping our first impressions of a post-industrial technological utopia bend to the whims and fancies of a regime that has a post-dated cheque issued on its genesis.

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