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Archive for September, 2006

Does Digestion of Rivals Make You Evil?

Google on a computer screen

GOOGLE is a prime example (sometimes even a role model) in various different contexts. However, Google is also known for its aggressive reach (otherwise appeal) to people who are not deservedly earned. The company has been accused of leading to ‘brain drain’ in the States, as well as disrupting operations in some companies. This was essentially caused by pulling of employees without prior notice. One notable embodiment of this behaviour is snatching of developers from Open Source projects that concern Google, e.g. Vinton Cerf, Andy Morton, and Greg Stein. There are several other VIP figures that serve as equally-valid examples.

There is no problem with this on the shallow level of principles. The developers have the will and the right to pursue their goals and follow their passions. But the snag comes at the end of my post.

Google has been thriving on three main choices/ideologies, in my opinion.

  • One smart move was the use of Linux, which increased performance, contributed to secrecy, and raised stability while reducing running costs;
  • Another was the use of new algorithms, which are very much like those you would find in academic trackers (e.g. publication farms like CiteSeer). Counting backlinks was not a hard idea to embrace or anything unprecedented, with the exception of Web search perhaps;
  • Lastly, the famous mantra and general laid-back culture put an innocent face on a to-be behemoth.

Ultimately, you may find that Google’s continued success relied on technologies that were harnessed through acquisitions (compare with Microsoft). I am not at all fond of the direction our economy takes as it evolves. It kills startups (one could spot quite a few of these Google victims on eBay) and it shrinks the level of choice in industry. I am a strong advocate of diversity and co-existence, by means of reduced aggressiveness in human resources and management. When lawyers and investors take over a pool of intellect, alarm bells should be sounded.

Oxford-bound, Rants Mandatory

Room in Oxford Oxford College
Some photos I took in Oxford last year

LATER this month I will present my work at Oxford University. I still have many photos from my last visit (sample above) and I also wrote some notes. The absurd thing is that, for the first time, the college where we’ll be staying does not permit jeans and T-shirts. It doesn’t sound so liberal to me.

As was the case before, another concern for me would be whether the projection facilities can handle OpenDocument format. Even if I choose to present in HTML with JavaScript, there’s no guarantee that a proper Web browser (one that supports Web standards) will be installed. In that case, I need to bring a laptop and, oddly enough, people are assumed to have the same ‘flavour’ of software. Therefore, it has become common to share the same computer in a session, passing files using USB sticks. Use of laptops is frowned upon, so ignorance in computing and standards evidently leads to inconveniences. That aside, I have little desire to travel anymore, but I am left without much choice. I’ll probably write more on this topic, nearer to the actual date of the event.

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