Activist Judiciary Google

Brewster Kahle of Archive.org on DemocracyNow!’s segment on Google and Libraries made me think of Noam Chomsky on how corporations became ‘immortal [interminable] persons’ gaining personhood through activist judges. He recommends Transformation of American Law, but that book is hard going.

BREWSTER KAHLE: I guess Congress can do anything. But since this is sort of coming in through the back door, through the judiciary, it’s a little bit odd. There are people in the Justice Department that are starting to look at this. And I hope they take a close look at not only the monopoly of what Google is trying to make, but this price-setting organization called the Books Rights Registry is another sort of bizarre outcome of the secretly negotiated settlement that could determine the future of libraries.

I always had big warm fuzzies about google, programming mentors write stuff like ‘remember, google is your friend’ as advice on working out problems. A throwaway comment by usablity guru, Jakob Nielsen (who was[is?] on Google’s technical advisory board), gets you to examine those fuzzies. The quote was caught up on Slashdot from Marketplace. (Japanese mention too, of ‘Lucky Button‘)

But Nielsen, the Web usability expert, says the whimsy serves another business purpose.

NIELSEN: By loosening up their reputation, by sort of still maintaining this feeling of, "Oh we’re just two kind of grad students hanging out and having a beer and having a grand old time," not you know, "We are 16,000 people working on undermining your privacy."

As Google continues to draw the attention of competitors, regulators and, yes, privacy advocates, showing that human face is one way to make the company appear less threatening. Google’s pressing the the "I’m Feeling Lucky" button, and hoping it’ll bring them the exact result they want.

In Mountain View, California, I’m Brendan Newnam for Marketplace.

Archive.org is doing some impressive stuff – Brewster Kahle’s efforts on maintaining accountability in a situation where the average life of a webpage is 100 days are commendable. It’s not just google that ‘remembers everything.’

BREWSTER KAHLE: We’re archiving the whole World Wide Web. We take a snapshot every two months of every website of anywhere in the world, and we record all of the pages, so that you can be able to see the World Wide Web as it was. You could surf the web as it was. We have the out-of-print web pages.

The average life of a web page is about 100 days. So, if you wanted to see what it is some corporation or a government claimed before, if you go back to the website, it could be gone. And so, the Wayback Machine plays the role of a library in the digital realm to be able to make it so that accountability is there towards what it is people said in the past.

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