Tag: google

  • You either die a hero or you live long enough to see Batman’s words misattributed to you

    You either die a hero or you live long enough to see Batman’s words misattributed to you

    wrote a little essay around ten years ago about The Dark Knight film and the broader cynical turn in cinema, riffing on the line “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. It was originally spoken by Harvey Dent early in the film before being repeated by Batman late in the film as he runs into the night

  • How big tech perceives China

    From Rana Foroohar‘s Don’t Be Evil pg 245-246. It’s interesting to read this in light of quite how much Uber burned trying (and failing) to break into the Chinese market: As many Googlers have told me, China is considered the world’s petri dish for digital technology. Even as it’s become more repressive, it’s become more tech saturated. China […]

  • Google’s astroturfing operation

    This offers a fascinating insight into Google’s (apparent) astroturfing operation concerning the European copyright directive: Constantin van Lijnden writing in the top German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has uncovered the financial link between YouTubers in the paid service of Google to “protest” in favor of the multinational monopolist’s interests in the European Copyright Directive (aka “Article […]

  • The institutionalisation of behavioural surplus: a quick recap on The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

    The institutionalisation of behavioural surplus: a quick recap on The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

    I’m slowly making my way through Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism and I thought I’d benefit from a quick recap of where I’d got to so far. In essence the first part of the book is an account of behavioural surplus: data about user behaviour  left over after narrowly technical requirements that can be […]

  • Capturing the classroom: the Google Agenda

    My notes on this report by Google Transparency Project  There are many reasons to be cautious about the educational ambitions of tech firms. If these firms seem likely to be the dominant actors of the global economy over the coming decades, how will shape the influence they exercise over education. To offer the most concrete […]

  • Socialising children into digital agency: why it’s not the same as reading, writing and arithmetic

    I found this comparison by Robin Wilton extremely thought-provoking. It’s correct as a statement about why we should treat these skills as fundamental to education. However it glosses over a number of differences and we should be cautious about the comparison: While there are corporate interests involved in reading, writing and arithmetic they exercise less power in […]

  • The revolving door between Google and government

    The notion of the ‘revolving door’ is something I’ve spent much time pondering when campaigning against the arms trade. I’ve talked to Andrew Feinstein, former South African MP and long-standing critic of the arms trade, for two podcasts which explored this issue. Here’s the most recent one I recorded. This is how Campaign Against the […]

  • The Lived Reality of Work in Tech Firms

    From Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, by Douglas Rushkoff, loc 72-86: A few weeks later, there was nothing to smile about. Protesters in Oakland were now throwing rocks at Google’s buses and broke a window, terrifying employees. Sure, I was as concerned about the company’s practices as anyone, and frustrated by the way Silicon […]

  • The global ambitions of tech giants

    A fascinating article on the LSE’s Media Policy Blog about the global ambitions of contemporary technology giants and the corporate structures which facilitate them: The folks who run these companies understand this. For if there is one thing that characterises the leaders of Google and Facebook it is their determination to take the long, strategic […]

  • the carefully cultivated public persona of Eric Schmidt

    From Battle of the Titans loc 1846: Anyone who has ever worked for Schmidt will tell you that he is one of the toughest, most competitive executives walking. Ask Rubin what it was like to be on the receiving end of a few “Don’t fuck it up” lectures from Schmidt. “Not fun,” Rubin says. But […]

  • The Platform Wars

    From Battle of the Titans, loc 113-127. This dynamic seems likely to intensify with time: A lot of what we buy via Apple’s iTunes store—apps, music, movies, TV shows, books, etc.—doesn’t work easily on Android devices or at all, and vice versa. And both companies know that the more money each of us spends on […]

  • The origin of the phrase “cloud computing”

    Very interesting snippet at the end of How Google Works, loc 3859: It’s called “cloud computing” because the old programs to draw network schematics surrounded the icons for servers with a circle. A cluster of servers in a network diagram had several overlapping circles, which resembled a cloud.

  • the reality of ‘20% time’ at Google

    One of Google’s most famous perks is the ‘20% rule’, in which staff are allowed a portion of time to work on their own projects. However as Eric Schmidt and his co-author explain in How Google Works, this isn’t a matter of time as such. From loc 3210: This is the power of 20 percent […]

  • the intensification of demands upon managers 

    I read this description of Schmidt in How Google Works and it immediately prompted the question of how this behaviour percolates down the food chain. How does a Google exec who fails this test then act in relation to their own subordinates? Loc 2524: John Seely Brown, the former director of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research […]

  • the sociology of executive coaching

    As you may know, executive coaching is an increasingly common phenomenon, particularly in some sectors like tech. This is how Eric Schmidt and his co-author describe the necessity of it in How Google Works loc 2440: Whenever you watch a world-class athlete perform, you can be sure that there is a great coach behind her success. […]

  • why did something like Google not emerge earlier in the web’s history?

    A really interesting question from Finn Brunton’s Spam pg 218: An interesting question can be raised in relation to this innovative development: why is it innovative—or rather, why wasn’t such a system already normal? Citation analysis has been a common tool in social science since the Science Citation Index ® began in 1963 (with the […]

  • The meritocratic elitism of Google 

    How Google Works is a fascinating book co-authored by Eric Schmidt in which he details, unsurprisingly, how Google works. In the section I just read, he describes how Google sets out to ensure that they only hire A’s, as detailed in loc 1413: A workforce of great people not only does great work, it attracts […]