Google claim to be “the Good Guys”. Maybe they are – at the moment. When that amount of power is focussed in one place, you can bet your bottom dollar the bad guys will want a piece, if not all of the action.
At the moment, Google makes so much money it doesn’t know what to do with it. So what it does, is create new little bits to further colonise the web and other communication technologies, so that in a couple of years, when a some nerds from Stanford come up with a “Google Killer” idea, the web will be owned by Google and they won’t get a look in. Google has learned not to let itself fall into the same trap Microsoft did.
If Google were making real things or selling food or any other utility, they would have been broken up into pieces by now, but somehow, we are perfectly happy to blindly let a real Big Brother outfit take over our lives, because they keep telling us they are the “Good Guys”.
If they really are the good guys, then they should stop fiddling about with operating systems and phones and apply their considerable power and inventiveness to the problem of content.
Google is a parasite. It makes its money by exploiting people like me – the creatives, who spend our lives having ideas, using our brains to move the human condition on. Google sucks up what we do, mashes it up and sells advertising on the back of it. It pays us nothing for our work and claims all the profit. That is either theft or slavery. The very word content demeans the work of creative people. The Mona Lisa is content to a web technologist. Picasso and Shakespeare mere content providers. Content is just a nebulous medium that can be focussed by aggregating technologies to sell advertising to finely chosen markets.
I’m beginning to feel a bit jaded about the wonder of the web. No one makes money as a creative person on the web. Certainly not enough to live on. It makes communication faster and easier, but is that a good thing? When I was young, you could send a postcard in the morning and it would be delivered by tea. Isn’t that really enough? we used to pick up the phone and actually talk to people at the other end – wasn’t that better?
I find myself glued to my communication devices these days. The day goes by and I’ve done nothing but blog, sort through spam and obsessively check my youtube and website stats, this because my publishers tell me it’s not enough to have ideas, to write and illustrate and visit schools and libraries and perform at festivals anymore, I have to blog to create and maintain my market. Woah! Isn’t that the publisher’s job? I blog away like mad, but I don’t think it makes a blind bit of difference to my market, because I don’t address my blog to my market. If I did, there wouldn’t be any point in writing the books, as I’d be giving all my creative work away to the kids who aren’t the ones who buy the books anyway.
Meanwhile, as you read this blog, you and I are putting a journalist out of business, because you really should be reading carefully considered, well-written work from a paid-for journal and I should not be dashing this off for free, but submitting it to a journal who would pay me for my time and effort.
If Google really are the good guys, they should put all their energy into one project – online micropayments.
I’ve removed creative projects from the web because I did not get paid for them while they were online. As they were free, they took away from sales of real books from which I earn real money. Now I can’t be bothered to work on all the great ideas I have because I can’t afford to do them, because I know I won’t get paid.
If I got a micropayment every time someone looked at one of my projects, then it would become worthwhile to start putting projects together, or it would be worthwhile for publishers to gravitate towards online delivery. The way things are going, in about five years time, there is going to be a blood bath in publishing unless an equitable way is found to pay people for the work they do online. As far as I’m concerned, my good will and the fun of experimentation has worn out. Like everyone else, I need to eat and in this system, that means I need cash, not the promise of a new paradigm in a generation’s time, when I’ll be 90 and having to stack shelves at the supermarket.
I tried setting up a secure area of my site to provide quality content. But I could not guarantee the security of it and I found myself turning into a systems administrator – I shouldn’t have to do that. The business guys will tell me that I should be entrepreneurial and set up my own content delivery business, but then I’d never be creative again – I’d spend all my time employing others to do the creative work, while I did the paperwork and programming. I have a publisher to do that. It’s a weird twisted re-cycling argument that technologists and web business people don’t seem to get.
Since the web began to take hold, my workload has at least doubled. If only my income had done the same. I may have stayed in the same place – I think I’m probably going backwards in real terms.
The internet is turning into a place that is purely commercial, a system for screwing money and free labour out of the plebs, (that’s us) by legal or illegal means. Will we continue to walk blindly down this path, or will we revolt or will the good guys come to our aid and create a future that we might want to be part of?