evil is as evil does

\”\”Don\’t be evil\” is the informal corporate motto (or slogan) for Google, originally suggested by Google employees Paul Buchheit and Amit Patel at a meeting. Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, said he \”wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out,\” adding that the slogan was \”also a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent.\”

\”Don\’t be evil\” is said to recognize that large corporations can often maximize short-term profits with actions that destroy long-term brand image and competitive position. By instilling a Don\’t Be Evil culture, the corporation establishes a baseline for decision making that can enhance the trust and image of the corporation that outweighs short-term gains from violating the Don\’t Be Evil principles.

While many companies have ethical codes to govern their conduct, Google made \”Don\’t Be Evil\” a central pillar of their identity, and part of their self-proclaimed core values.\” From the article \”Free Association: Sound of Silence\”, Wiretap Magazine, Nov. 28th, 2008, by Larisa Mann: \” What About Author\’s Rights? Worse yet is the fact that music bloggers\’ own original material is being deleted. Even if some links in a post are not fair use, two wrongs don\’t make a right. Google has made its name by promising to do right by its users and the data they host for the public. If they keep deleting our own creative works, why should the public trust them?

Blogger is a private company, but it provides public services similar to those offered by libraries, archives and broadcasting. It\’s a growing problem in the internet era: These private companies, controlled only by private law, have the ability to run their businesses with little or no respect for the public.

Google recently made a deal with book publishers over access to scanned books for Google Book Search. We have to be vigilant that they don\’t snub the reading public the way they are currently dissing the listening, writing and remixing public on Blogger.

(Author\’s Note: Only one blogger agreed to be identified for this column. Others say they are concerned about being further targeted. So much for \”Don\’t Be Evil\”!)

Larisa Mann writes about technology, media and law for WireTap, studies Jurisprudence and Social Policy at U.C. Berkeley and djs under the name Ripley. She is a resident DJ at Surya Dub, San Francisco, and collaborates with the Riddim Method blog-DJ-academic crew, Havocsound sound system, and various other cross-fertilizing organisms in the Bay Area and worldwide.\” illustration by ib. WIRETAP MAGAZINE: SOUND OF SILENCE MORE FROM LARISA MANN @ RIPLEY


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