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Conflict of Interest

Does CNET have adequate disclosures?

CNET's disclosure policy/judgement appears inadequate again in its latest net neutrality piece by Declan McCullagh: "Wanted: writers for DC tech lobby group, secrecy mandatory" which assails the financial motives/conflicts of other writers in excruciating detail without applying the same tough standard to themselves at CNET. 

  • Readers of this blog may remember another post I wrote on this subject, where I called CNET out for not disclosing when Mr. MucCullagh wrote about Google-related issues -- that his wife works for Google.  
    • In that post, I said I was a frequent and usually appreciative reader of Mr. McCullagh's Iconoclast column, but that if CNET challenges the motives/disclosures of others, they must have clean hands of their own.
  • To their credit, CNET now discloses that Mr. McCullagh's wife works for Google.

My point here is that CNET should have either had another writer who was not so conflicted write this piece or CNET should have increased the amount of disclosure on this piece to be congruent with the true thrust of the piece

Google is indeed a media company!

Miguel Helft/The New York Times has figured out that Google is indeed a media competitor, but apparently doesn't think other media have connected the dots -- given how they framed their lead business article today: "Is Google a Media Company?"

While its obvious that Helft/NYT get the joke that Google is most certainly a media company by the prominence, graphic, and headline of the story, they also did their journalistic duty in presenting both sides of the question, including allowing Google a lot of space to continue its charade that Google is not a media company.

Let's have some fun with Google's "who? little old us? a media company? you must be kidding..." --defense in the New York Times article.

Googleopoly's new self-granted entitlement: "Automatic Matching" is evidence of monopoly abuse

Kudos to Cade Metz of The Register for exposing Googleopoly's new self-granted entitlement to take their customers money without permission -- called "automatic matching" in Adwords.

Google Knol: The World's Editor-in-Chief & Omni-Publisher? Can you say "Dis-intermediation?"

Knol, Google's newly announced online publishing service, is an ominous direct competitive threat to traditional newspaper/magazine/journal publishers, NOT a challenge to Wikipedia as many in content circles naively and wishfully think.

  • Like the frog that has the good sense to jump out of boiling water, but who can be lulled into a false sense of security and get cooked if the tempature increases gradually...
    • ...publishers of all types currently have a false sense of security that Google is targeting Wikipedia and not them because Google has YET to really monetize Google News or YouTube.

Wake up publishers/editors! Google, with by far the world's largest:

Read an insightful piece: "Google: the mother of antitrust battles?" in The Register

Anyone interested in Google's increasing dominance or the Google-Yahoo partnership should read Andrew Orlowski's great piece in The Register: "Google the mother of antirust battles?"

  • It is always helpful to get an insightful and different perspective from "across the pond."   

eBay's non-neutral two-tier Internet model via deal

eBay sellers are complaining that eBay's change in its business model discriminates in favor of with a special no-fee selling tier and also violates eBay's longtime commitment to a "level playing field" -- per an article in the New York Times:  

  • "Many believe that eBay has violated the sacred tenet of the “level playing field,” which its founder, Pierre Omidyar, established as one of the company’s basic principles."...
  • "“As an independent seller, I felt betrayed,” Mr. Libby said. “I’ve paid eBay many hundreds of thousands in fees over the past several years and believed them when they talked about a level playing field. And they just plain and simple are going back on their word.” “There is fair, and there is outright stabbing you in the back,” he said."

As an ardent free market proponent, I strongly defend eBay's freedom to price discriminate, and offer more than one selling tier in their Internet model.

  • A diversity of demand produces a diversity of supply -- that's one of the things that free markets do so uniquely well.

However, given eBay's self-serving, hypocritical, and sanctimonious support for net neutrality and a one-tier Internet, I must spotlight eBay's outrageous, indefensible, and anti-competitive double standard between its own business practices and eBay's position to make eBay's practice illegal for eBay's competitors. 

Pondering why so many "watchdogs" are AWOL on Google

I got to wondering why so many supposed "public watchdogs" are AWOL on Google's threat to privacy, when I was reading the LA Times excellent editorial where they ponder the question: "Why is Youtube Hoarding Data?" 

Other than the New York Times last year taking Google to task for StreetView in "Watching your every move?" the editorial boards around the country have be uncharacteristicly silent on Google's unprecedented collection of more private information on more people than any time in history, while being ranked worst in the world on privacy by Privacy International.  

Google's Privacy Lip Service

This post documents the pile of evidence that Google just gives lip service to privacy matters.

  • A few days ago, Google quietly and begrudgingly complied with California privacy law by putting a privacy link on its home page. Kudos to Saul Hansell's New York Times blog which spotlighted Google's privacy intransigence.

I will analyze Google's privacy policies to show why it was no fluke that privacy watchdog, Privacy International ranked Google worst in its world survey on privacy and called Google "hostile to privacy."

First, consider the way that Google finally posted its privacy link on its home page. While it may now be in compliance technically, it sure isn't embracing the letter or the spirit of privacy law. 

Where's the outrage and media when Google isn't a neutral gatekeeper?

Where's the free speech outrage when Google, the Internet's Ultimate gatekeeper, blocks free speech on the Internet in clear violation of the FCC's net neutrality principles?

  • Many bloggers "received a notice from Google last week saying that their sites had been identified as potential “spam” blogs. “You will not be able to publish posts to your blog until we review your site and confirm that it is not a spam blog,” the Google e-mail read" per the New York Times Bits blog by Miguel Helft.      

Google's well-known dominant share of the search market makes Google the Internet's primary gatekeeper and self-appointed organizer of the world's information. As I have written repeatedly, Google has more unaccountable power over the world's information than any entity in the world, see here, and here.

Why do the media listen and report on Free Press, Public Knowledge, and other consumer groups when they make a federal case out of alleged net neutrality violations by broadband companies, but are totally silent when Google violates the very principles they allege to cherish and fight for? 

Is the "Long Tail" just a Tall Tale?

A new article/study by Harvard Business School Professor Anita Elberse challenges the validity of the Silicon Valley mantra/theory that the Internet created a new "long tail" of demand for niche products that would ultimately undermine and overwhelm the offline trend towards "big hits."  

  • Thank you to Lee Gomes of the Wall Street Journal whose excellent article: "Study Refutes Niche Theory Spawned by Web" brought the new Elberse research to my attention.
    • From Mr. Gomes article: "Prof. Elberse looked at data for online video rentals and song purchases, and discovered that the patterns by which people shop online are essentially the same as the ones from offline. Not only do hits and blockbusters remain every bit as important online, but the evidence suggests that the Web is actually causing their role to grow, not shrink."

Why this is such important new research is that much of the Silicon Valley 'pixie dust' that fuels so many of the new business models involving social networking, crowdsourcing, etc. is predicated on the "Long Tail" book/theory by Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson.