Thursday, February 02, 2006

Not So You'd Notice

Well you've probably all read that Google has made a deal with the government of China to provide a portal that is censored according to that government's whims. Yes, the corporate honchos behind Google, self-proclaimed Doers-Of-No-Evil and outspoken advocates of free speech and freedom of information are making a deal with a government that holds those values in contempt. Tsk. Shame.

To mark this occasion in Capitalistic line-blurring, my friend Kirke has launched a t-shirt that sums up the kind of thinking you can use if you want to take dubious moral stances in your day-to-day life. He can't promise you'll feel better about such ethical wavering, but at least you'll be being honest.

Which is more than we can say for Google.


Blogger Joey Polanski said...

If GOOgle is no longr GOOD, but is now BAD, can we start callin it "BAgle"?

February 02, 2006 3:08 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

I've had a word to some friends in high places and the deed's done. So long Google: Bagle it.

February 02, 2006 4:18 PM  
Blogger Leon of Leichhardt said...

I read somewhere recently (like last couple of days) that spelling errors in searches break the censorship wall...

February 02, 2006 6:31 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Aha! So develloping bad use of Inglish langwage mite becum a form of rezistance! Take that Chineez Mind Kontrollaz! Veeva la revalooshun!

February 02, 2006 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wool Phman says: the boundary betweeen politcal correctness and hypocrisy is slim.Google "Australian Wheat Board" and you get "Nice Friendly Iraqi Yum Cha".Glass houses and stones guys.Exorcise your democratic rights and vote "Linda Blair" next Aussie elections.

February 02, 2006 8:28 PM  
Blogger Joey Polanski said...

Now yous guys can see th POWR of spellin like a Polanski!

How dya think Poland got out from undr th thum o th commies?

February 03, 2006 3:23 AM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Wool Phman: Hey waiddaminit... I didn't vote for the scumbags who run our country - I can be as preachy as I like thank you very much. Nor do I think the AWB management is much more than a moralistic stone's throw from Jodie Rich and the whole One-Tel mob.

February 03, 2006 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wool Phman howls right back:"I can be as preachy as I like"-and so you should.But.Kinda smelt a whiff of naivete in that post-like any big bizzyniss dont have its finger in some sort of morally dubious pie,and castigating Google for accepting the Chinese Government's terms in order to do business with the world's biggest market,I reckon is a storm in a tea cup.
The discussion in western media over the last week alone has increased awareness of human rights issues in China.A commentator on New Zealand National Radio suggested that Chinese Google users will have a new sense of their governments censorship through Google use,and that being the tech savvy bunch they are,accessing alternate sites for information denied them on Google works as a kinda politically underground schtick.
There are lotsa other things to get pissy about.Japanese Whaling is always a go.Or any godamn thing about Burma.

February 03, 2006 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the issue in this post? Human rights abuse in China or the morally flexible nature of international business?

What squashes my tomato? "Tsk" dont do no good no how for improving the lot of Chinese ctiizens who face imprisonment or execution for holding views diverging from their Government's.Neither would any boycott of Google.
And.Judging an entity for behaving not as we would like them to,seems kinda off when we haven't had our own moral backbone tested in the same situation.

For the first 18 years of my life I went to the family church and recited each Sunday "I,a poor miserable sinner..." Good parenting eh? That year I had my first long-pants job and met a co-worker who was undertaking religious instruction.She got stuck on the concept of Original Sin,"I dont feel sinful".Having swallowed whole my church's dogma,I attempted to explain my understanding of the idea.That we dont know the outcome of all our actions,that good intentions have perhaps less than good results,and that within the web of human interaction,stuff started in good faith may connect or support stuff done with bad intent.
During that time,in our country (New Zealand),a rugby tour from the South African Springboks was taking place.The South African government was then strictly apartheid.Mandela was imprisoned.The ANC was outlawed.The anti-apartheid movement in New Zealand was strong,and we had a kinda a civil meltdown over the tour.Protests in the streets.Violence.Arrests.An equivalent to the anti Vietnamese war movement in the US.
The company for which we worked making innocent seeming picture frames,used the same freight company that ran the coach service transporting the rugby teams around the country. What should I have done? Being young and idealistic,I considered,as a protest,refusing to deliver our goods to the freight company,although it would have meant my job.
What would you have done in my place? What actions would have been morally comendable? What protest would be effective? Would you consider my lack of action a tacit support of the South African apartheid system? Is an awareness of a situation protest enough?
Wool Fmahn

February 03, 2006 2:07 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Ah, indeed you are right Wool Phman. But you have missed the salient point here. I'm not flinging stones at Microsoft or Yahoo for doing the same thing because, well, we expect that of them don't we?

Google has set itself up for some moralistic whipping because of its holier-than-thou posturing. It's not the trading with the Devil per se to which I'm taking exception. I'm certainly not naive enough to think that there aren't worse culprits.

The point is that the Google boys can no longer pretend to have a shiny halo.

Hence the inherent honesty of the t-shirts.

February 03, 2006 2:08 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

And the 'tsk' is a resigned acceptance of the fact that few people have moral convictions these days.

Look, business is business. There are always shifting lines. But if you set up an ethical code of conduct that is based on a moral principle, and your business model is predicated upon that code of conduct, then simply brushing aside objections to infringement of that code by saying 'it's business' is the equivalent of ploughing that moral code under.

You can argue that this episode with Google is good for the Chinese people, as you have done and as Google itself has done. Maybe it's true. It's not the point. The point is that Google has drawn up an ethical position for their business, and then quite blatantly ignored it for their own gain.

What is at issue in my post is neither human rights abuse, nor the morally flexible nature of international business.

It is the nature of ethical decision-making. Google has pitted its ethical stance fairly and squarely against its business strategies, and as is pretty much always the case these days, ethics loses.

I don't think that Google can claim, even in the loosest interpretation, to have 'done no evil' an longer. They may as well strike it from their manifesto.

February 03, 2006 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The T shirt then should read "a little bit unethical" W.L.F.Mann

February 03, 2006 2:45 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Not as catchy, nor anywhere near as provocative.

February 03, 2006 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"some methods are deemed to be unethical".Damn near EVERYONE is moralising this month.S'only a matter of time til we all start banging on about the nature of God again


February 06, 2006 8:15 AM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Yeah and with Google too - bit of a pot-calling-the-kettle-black scenario, wouldn't you say...?

February 06, 2006 8:21 AM  

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