Former FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour, now corporate lawyer for Microsoft (among other clients), wrote this op-ed that appeared in yesterday???s New York Times:
Google is not just a ???search engine company,??? or an ???online services company,??? or a publisher, or an advertising platform. At its core, it???s a data collection company.
Its ???market??? is data by, from and about consumers ??? you, that is. And in that realm, its role is so dominant as to be overwhelming, and scary. Data is the engine of online markets and has become, indeed, a new asset class.
I???ve been concerned about Google???s dominant role in data collection ??? and the profound privacy concerns it raises ??? since my time at the F.T.C. When the commission approved Google???s 2007 acquisition of DoubleClick, I dissented ??? because I was concerned that combining the two companies??? vast troves of consumer information would allow Google, which was largely unchecked by competition, to develop invasive profiles of individuals??? Internet habits.
How dominant is Google?
A highly ideological, jingoistic clique masquerades as objective scholars, all to justify US militarism
Two back-to-back panels explored what it takes to successfully transition to the untethered enterprise, one consisting of academics, and one of CIOs.?? Not surprisingly, each of these panels viewed the opportunities and challenges through somewhat different lenses.
The academic panel talked about the need to be entrepreneurial and move quickly to try out new ideas in the marketplace.?? Agility beats strategy every time.?? Marketplace experimentation is very important, and it is the right way to make decisions as to what works and what does not.?? Top down strategy plans take too long to formulate and generally don???t work so well because technologies and markets are changing so fast.?? With digital platforms, cloud and other such capabilities, the cost of experimentation is much lower than in the past, whereas the cost of missed opportunities is very high.?? Companies need to embrace this culture of agility.??
The CIO panel was more guarded.?? While they agreed that agility and experimentation were very important, they viewed them more as aspirational objectives that were not always practical given existing investments and commitments.?? Unlike the academic panel, the CIOs emphasized the need for ROI analysis and careful planning, especially when considering big technology bets.?? Stitching together the overall infrastructure to support a variety of cloud services and mobile devices requires discipline, otherwise things will not work or there might be serious security and quality breakdowns.??
Motherships and skunkworks
I am staunch proponent of open access to scientific information, especially the variety that I paid for by virtue of taxation. The Research Works Act (HR3699) being proposed now will lock away taxpayer funded research from the hands of those whose hard-earned wages funded the research. It???s really a no-brainer and the NIH compromise was generous, allowing publishers to make a profit from research works for a whole year, during the crucial access time for new articles. The AAP argument that they add value by administering peer-review is disingenuous at best, but insulting to the scientists that voluntarily staff their peer reviewer army. Researchers freely add-value to for-profit institutions through providing all peer-review services and assigning copyright to publishers. As Heather Morrison writes in her thorough dissertation on scholarly communication: ???Giving exclusive copyright to any one party is arguably a disservice to all of the other parties who contributed to the research, or for whom it was conducted.??? Additionally, threats of job losses due to the NIH policy on open access are fear-mongering and taxpaying Americans should not have to bear the burden for their failure to innovate an outdated and inefficient mode of research communication.
Have you been following the war on Netflix and Redbox/Blockbuster? The film companies and HBO believe if they make war on these distributors DVD sales will rise and happy days will be here again. This is like the record labels believing they can make CD sales rise if they make war on Best Buy and Wal-Mart and put a shiv into the independents while they’re at it.
The future is inevitable. Reading is moving to electronic devices and physical media is dead in the music business, despite all the hosannas about vinyl. Sure, vinyl is fun and warm, and who doesn’t love those giant covers, but saying vinyl is making a comeback is like touting the sales of typewriter ribbons, it’s a drop in the bucket, it’s irrelevant nostalgia, a footnote by the side of the road on the way to what comes next.
And who taught us about the future?
The public embraced digital photography as well as MP3s. The public has no investment in infrastructure, it just latches on to what’s cool and efficient and goes there.
I’d call the incumbents Canute-like, but Canute was the one who knew the sea wouldn’t be held back by his command, it was his “flattering courtiers” who claimed he possessed that power. So are the incumbents deluded, and denuded, by the tailors who present new clothes, empty promises of a rosy return of the past. Almost tragic.
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’