Saturday, May 17, 2008

Is Google the Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

Yesterday I sat in a presentation by a “consultant”, who was selling us his services by trashing Google. Well perhaps trashing is a strong word, let’s say, he was trying to persuade us that we were the little lambs that would be eaten by the “wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing” aka Google. This follows the launch of Google in South Africa and yes they clearly do want as much advertising Rands as they can possibly lay their hands on? After all why else did they come here? Our new “friend” threw us the question “do we honestly think they do the best for us, or the best for their own wallets and profiteer unfairly out of us naïve South Africans who are not used to dealing with the wily likes of Google?” Of course, we all knew what the answer was to that question and we could avoid the unfortunate experience by procuring his services to ensure that Google doesn’t rip us off. I was somewhat offended by his patronising approach. He is one of those know-it-all IT guy – they always think they can baffle the less technical, especially if they are young and female (one of my work colleagues in the meeting - who is extremely bright and is set to lead a major new innovative technology driven initiative in our company) or blonde (that’s me). This approach irritates me. Where I work, there are scores of clever web and mobile developers. IT specialists, engineers and even actuaries, because we lead in technological innovation in our sector, so actually I reckon there are enough of us to work out when we were getting ripped and when we aren’t. However, I must be honest here, I quite enjoyed coming across an adversary of Google. You see, to date I have only come across Googly eyed people who think they are just great and good spirited, so in a way, despite the arrogance, I enjoyed listening to someone who could put a different face to Google. The irony of all of this of course is, that Google evangelizes about all the small businesses it spawns and entrepreneurs it makes rich - our consultant being a case in point! After the meeting, I couldn’t help myself but go to Google and search on the topic of “Is Google the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?” Well there are a lot of blogs and webpages dedicated to this subject, lists of the lawsuits they are facing etc etc. It all makes to fascinating reading. Google is a monopoly, after-all they control about 70% of the world's search and as one commentator remarked, even if you ditch Google you always go back, because they have got it right! Before I knew it, I ended up on a web trail of many opinions and new insights. From this little foray I have found a new site to add to my favourites at so thanks to our consultant friend, I did indeed learn something new that hopefully will make me a little more cleverer than I really am.

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