11.14.2005Google is in the news a lot lately. They just opened their Analytics service, The Google Story goes on sale tomorrow, their resident Evangelist has been appearing before congress, and the NYT published this article:
NYT: If Books Are on Google, Who Gains and Who Loses?
But the categories are all wrong. Organized information - information given shape and meaning - is never really free. And the virtues of "open source" software are not simply that it avoids corporate ownership. The operating system Linux, for example, has succeeded not just because varied individuals are freely contributing to its evolution, but also because companies are supporting it, and panels of overseers and a strict organizational procedure govern its specialized licenses.
Technology also keeps unsettling the categories. Some new forms of control will be needed to prevent unrestricted copying, but technological innovation will undermine attempts to apply too much control. Some flexibility is needed to prevent the stifling of communication and commerce, but technological innovation will foil those who believe it should not exist at all. This doesn't make things easy; it makes them unpredictable.
The internet is clearly evolving, and Google is its brain.