I've heard some crazy plans lately. Recessions bring them out, or at least companies trying to develop a bit of upward spin on their share prices.
Google has apparently been planning to tag all all our credit ratings to our browsers (and whatever you think - they
can tag you to your internet activities unless you stick to very obscure sites and don't have a standard browser setup).
Of course the criminals won't work out that they can make better money from fraudworthy victims conveniently shown their adverts and drawn to their site through google's ad network already vetted according to fraud-worthiness.
Google also apparently want us all to have a google account to pay to read the newspapers, the content of which we can generally read for free anyway courtesy of google and their other advertising partners' mash-ups.
I don't know if Murdoch will be able to keep his Fleet Street sailing with 30% of the income being absorbed by google, but it certainly makes great business sense for google. I'm not too sure about it being good for the newspapers - their ills are not just
fiscal, but they can be cured. If I was on the board I'd probably make at least a few her..hums. Sign yourself up to a monopoly or...
Readers needn't worry too much about google spying on their media reading habits, that's already an open book to those 'in the know'.
There has been some interest in privacy lately, could be something to do with id theft and fraud, terrorism, and a response to pointless big-brother laws and regulations, but the end result is that many are questioning the sensibility of allowing a super-google
spy machine tailoring our internet experience purely to maximise our spending potential, while selling our data or use of it and pandering to any government with a penchant for spying on it's citizens.
The politicians didn't really get it until they realised that their very internet doings were available to the opposition, every search, email, comment, tweet, message and medical record.
Suddenly we had a wake up call everyone heard. The unleashing of these tools into the hands of the immoral would be the end of days (especially according to the politicians).
Will there be no opposition, no detracting voices, no questioning nor criticis During the past decade while the financial industry was building fairyland dissent was smothered, ignored unpublished, vetted out or buried under mountains of speculative hype.
As we try and claw our way out of that hole, the same tools are being used to psyche us out of the recession or depression (if you're spending less its a recession and if you're drinking more its depression).
Will this cozying up to government, effective extortion of newspapers, and ability to influence search results lead to a monster we lose control of? They think we've already lost control of them.
Ask yourself Mr Politician if you want your detractors to out-speak you unless you play ball? Mr Opposition do you want to remain there forever - every move you make monitored, anticipated and neutralized before you get halfway through your research? Every
source of information compromised, even your call information sold by your phone company - and that of your caller.
If you think it can't be used for evil then you are one of the dinosaurs who need to go, but don't hand us and the future on a platter to some mob who prattle on about 'doing no evil'.
Just like some of those bank dinosaurs didn't conceive of the damage flash trading could do to the markets, fancy algorithms can be made to have political dissent and unwanted news disappear from search results - effectively stifling political comment and
activism. Money can already influence search results, with some search engines happy enough to sell your brand name searches and keywords to the highest bidder. Don't imagine similar things can't be done with politics and activism. Get real.
At the moment less than 5% of people are responsible for the majority of opinions and ideas expressed on the internet. This doesn't mean that the rest don't have an opinion, many may be content to see their opinion reflected already, but a hidden 0.00001%
determine which ones you read.
Governments are trying to get in on the action and help do the deciding with censorship and waiting in the wings are some search engines eager to help them censor our world.
These days it's just too easy to plant some dirty code on your site resulting in search engines like google blocking it from the search results. Of course they're just protecting us, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it is very hard for an innocent victim
to get their site back into the listings. Very much like the consequences of ID theft.
Spare me the 'You shouldn't be running a site if you can't secure it' lecture because nobody can. Except the big money backed messages. There lays the opportunity to 'disinfect' the web of not just bad code but pretty well any site with undesirable content.
The difficult part is who decides what is undesirable?
While I've outlined fuel for conspiracy theorists, I'm not quite with them but I do acknowledge that all the tools are there to do the business on all of us yet again.
The reality will be revealed by the actions of governments. If they nip them in the bud and reduce the opportunity for monopolies we're all going to be better off. If they don't, then the conspiracy theorists will have been shown to be right.
I, for one, will never be inclined to pay for access to anything online if I have to pay google, but it will be a moot point if they get away with charging newspapers (and then it follows everyone else) 30% for the privilege, because everything will be google
At the very least newspapers would be wise to ensure that there were multiple payment methods, and perhaps at least one which gouged them substantially less. If I were on the board, I'd probably be looking into a payment system newspapers actually participated
in (as in shareholders getting dividends - unlike the google investment model with no dividends).
While I may seem harsh, I do give credit where it is due. Google are certainly not trying to monopolise the browser market, in fact they insist that you use Microsoft Internet Explorer.
I happened to try their excellent (or so I've heard because I haven't got it working yet) google earth program but it had a connection issue, and that's where google told me I had to use Internet Explorer to run the diagnostic. Except asking a Firefox user
to use IE gets a similar response as asking the Rabbi to eat bacon. Here's a mock-up for educational (and legal) purposes. The names have been changed to protect those who 'do no evil'.