Google is neither good nor evil

I read this piece about Google in the New York Times this morning and found it interesting, somewhat of a rehash of a very old debate — does Google help media companies, or are they the enemy?

John Battelle links to it now and pulls out this quote from Steve Ballmer:

“The truth is, what Google is doing now is transferring the wealth out of the hands of rights holders into Google. So media companies around the world are all threatened by Google.”

We could have a very healthy debate about whether redistributes wealth or hordes it. Sure, Google is getting very rich making money off of other people’s content, but they’re also redistributing a good deal of revenue to content producers. In fact, many content producers who never had a chance of earning a time from content now have that opportunity. Some of them are doing quite well. And for a a big media company, thanks to Google, content that was once nearly valueless (long tail content) now has value.

Yes, Google competes for ad dollars, but much of its wealth is generated by advertisers who couldn’t afford big media. Google didn’t take a piece of the pie. Google made the pie bigger.

I’ve said before that Google is the enemy. I want to take it back. I now see Google as neither good nor evil. Google is a tool. A hammer is a tool. A hammer can help you build bird feeders and spice racks, or it can kill kitty cats and smash fine china. You can use Google to your benefit, or not. The choice is yours.

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