While there has been significant focus on trying to figure out what the implications of Google’s recent confrontation with the Chinese government will be for the company and its bottom line, Nicholas Carr was quick to pen an article in The New Republic about the ulterior motives behind Google’s actions. Carr has been close enough to and written enough about Google over the past few years to take an authoritative position on the matter, which is what grabbed our attention. His position that Google’s potential decision to pull out of China may have less to do with ethical posturing and more to do with the the company’s image of integrity and trust with its customer base is an interesting one, and makes much more sense than a sudden change of heart over censorship or the targeting of dissidents by government-sponsored hackers.
Three key points:
It was the attack, not a sudden burst of righteousness, that spurred Google’s action.
If our trust in the Web is undermined in any way, we’ll retreat from the network and seek out different ways to communicate, compute, and otherwise store and process data.
However important the Chinese market may be to Google, in either the short or the long term, it is less important than maintaining the integrity of the Net as a popular medium for information exchange.