Opinion

The Great Debate

Google street view: shades of Nazi spy era?

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The following article by Krista Kapralos first appeared in GlobalPost.

FRANKFURT, Germany — It wasn’t too long ago that apartment dwellers in Germany assumed that someone, somewhere in the building, was taking notes on everything they did. Even people who owned their own homes could never be certain whether a government mole was listening in on their conversations.

“Making sure the law was kept,” said Jobst Krause, a 67-year-old Frankfurter, of the surveillance during the Nazi era.

Krause is too young to have experienced the worst of Nazi surveillance, and he lived in West Germany when the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police force, kept tabs on citizens. But he understands the pang of worry that shot through the hearts of many Germans last week when Google, the American search engine giant, announced that it would launch its Street View application in Germany before year’s end.

Google began sending camera-equipped cars throughout Germany’s 20 largest cities in 2008. Once launched, the Street View program will offer panoramic, ground-level photographs of most streets in those cities, allowing Web surfers to virtually tour those cities as if they were walking or driving.

The program was launched in the U.S. in 2007, and has since spread through 23 countries. But Google found fierce resistance in Germany, where strict privacy laws and suspicion about the company’s reasons for widespread data collection have led to a handful of investigations.

What Google could learn from Pixar

ratatouille

The following article originally appeared on HBR.org. Former venture capitalist Peter Sims is co-author of True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership. His next book, Little Bets, will be published next spring. Follow him on Twitter. The views expressed are the author’s own.

Google has reached a pivotal moment in its history. What can it do to expand beyond its incredible core business, which is now reaching a more mature phase? For insight on how it can develop, let’s look to Pixar.

Pixar is as close to a constant learning organization as there is, with a proven ability to reinvent and a genuine cultural humility. Google’s founders could learn from Pixar’s founder and president Ed Catmull’s prolonged and determined efforts to counter the natural human reactions to success by aspiring to proactively (and honestly) seek-out and solve new problems constantly, recognizing that he doesn’t have all the answers on his own.

Google, google everywhere

CEBIT/The following is a post by Stephen Adler, editorial director of Thomson Reuters professional, that was taken from one of his blog posts at aif.thomsonreuters.com. Adler is a moderator at some of the panels at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which runs through July 11. Thomson Reuters is one of the sponsors of the event. The opinions expressed are Adler’s own.

Do a Google search for David Drummond and you’ll learn, amidst the 211,000 hits, that he is Google’s senior vice president and chief legal counsel. What you won’t learn is that he’s an especially eloquent spokesperson for his employer as it tries to live by its own “Don’t Be Evil” rule in a world of complicated choices. You need to come to the Aspen Ideas Festival to learn that — or you could watch a video of him on You Tube, which is also, of course, owned by Google.

Google is on everyone’s mind because it has so quickly become essential to our lives and a powerful disrupter of orthodoxies. It always seems to be on the front lines, on one side or the other, in big societal battles over such issues as censorship, the right to privacy, the meaning of copyright, the evolution of 21st century antitrust law, the future of the news industry, even the nature of the workplace.

from Ask...:

Murdoch mad as hell and ready to charge

Rupert Murdoch is mad as hell and it appears he’s not going to take it anymore. The media mogul and News Corp chief is upset at Google, saying the Internet search giant is ruining the newspaper business.

Not one to sit and around and just gripe about things, Murdoch says he might pull News Corp’s news from Google’s Web search results and list the stories on Microsoft’s Bing. The catch is that Microsoft would pay for the service, giving Murdoch a fresh revenue stream.

The problem is that many news organizations are fed their Web audience via Google search. If viewer rates fall, so too, the theory says, will ad dollars.

Ex-Google China chief’s dream factory

wei-gu.jpg– Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own —

Google’s former China head Kai-Fu Lee wants to create China’s next internet giant in a factory. He believes that by combining the smartest entrepreneurs, the shrewdest businesspeople and the brightest business ideas, he will be able to create five highly sellable companies a year. That sounds like an ideal model for venture capital, but is he being realistic?

Lee’s plan, formulated while he spent time in hospital over the summer, follows a battle with Beijing regulators who wanted to censor Google searches that lead to pornographic sites. It has drawn strong support from investors.

Collaboration is the key to economic growth

aron-cramer– Aron Cramer is president and CEO of BSR, a global business network and consultancy focused on sustainability. The views expressed are his own. —

As the World Economic Forum’s “Summer Davos” meeting in Dalian, China, gets underway, it is a bit chilling to think back to how the financial crisis was unfolding in real time during last year’s event.

As the 1,000 leaders gathering for this year’s event spend three days debating how to restore economic growth and social stability, the need to focus on a long-term transition to a more sustainable economy is clearer than ever.

from The Great Debate UK:

Google juice dampens news headlines

Mic Wright

- Mic Wright is Online News Editor at Stuff. The views expressed are his own -

Google juice – it sure isn't tasty but it is vital for anyone writing news online. The slightly irksome term refers to the mysterious combination of keywords and linking that will drag a webpage to the top of Google's search pages.

While the exact way Google's search algorithm works is largely a mystery to outsiders, news sites know it's vital to write headlines stuffed with the keywords that the search engine seeks out.

Online, the perfect punning headlines created by The Sun newspaper's super sub-editors just won't cut it. News stories on the web are all about the facts and the most successful sites are constantly checking to see what keywords will send you soaring up the Google search rankings. If you story isn't on the front page, it's not getting clicks, the less clicks you get the less likely it is that your advertisers' ads are going to get seen.

from Commentaries:

Apple-Google learn Corporate Governance 1.0

LONDON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - The resignation of Google CEO Eric Schmidt from Apple's board should come as no surprise to anyone with an inkling of what corporate governance means.

But then Silicon Valley's idea of corporate boards has long consisted of cozy, interlocking directorships which would be considered collusion in most other industries.

Google's CEO is not leaving Apple's board voluntarily. He is only stepping down in response to the increased government scrutiny of obvious potential conflicts of interest between the two companies.

from The Great Debate UK:

Google calls time on the Age of Windows

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-Tom Dunmore is Brand Director & Editor-in-Chief at Stuff magazine - Stuff has over 1 million readers worldwide. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Google announced on Wednesday that it was developing its own computer operating system. It will be secure, fast, lightweight and - most of all - free. And it presents the biggest challenge yet to the long-standing dominance of Windows.

The idea behind Google ChromeOS is nothing new - it's built on a Linux foundation and will no doubt share many of the features of other open-source operating systems. But Google is the only computing brand with more might than Microsoft: it's trusted, and has a proven track record of building brilliant, free services, from search to instant messaging.

Advancing global Internet freedom

Leslie Harris – Leslie Harris is the president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, DC. The views expressed are her own. —

In the wake of troubling reports as recently as last year that Western companies were assisting China with Internet censorship and the unmasking of cyber-dissidents, governments around the world seemed poised to regulate the conduct of Internet companies. Lawmakers appear to have stepped back from those efforts, but the challenges of advancing global Internet freedom remain.

The Global Online Freedom Act, drafted in the U.S. Congress, would have made it a crime for Internet companies to turn over personal information to governments in cases where that information could be used to punish dissent. The bill produced a firestorm of controversy. Human rights groups campaigned for swift passage, while the tech industry scrambled to stop the bill, which they viewed as a global eviction order from many difficult but emerging markets. At the same time, several members of the European Parliament proposed a European version of the measure, taking the accompanying controversy global.

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