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The dark side of Google (revised and updated edition)

The dark side of Google (revised and updated edition)

The dark side of Google (revised and updated edition)

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Many years have passed since Ippolita first addressed the need to distinguish between the Free Software movement and the Open Source movement. Although both movements are associated with a certain ‘freedom’, the ‘freedom’ proposed by the Free Software movement is very different in nature from the ‘freedom’ proposed by the Open Source movement. The former is more ideological, whereas the latter focuses on defining the best way of promoting a product in an open manner, or in other words: it completely follows a market-logic. The Open Source movement has adopted the playful attitude of the hacker peer sharing and uses it in a profit-oriented logic of work and exploitation. In so doing they have neutralized its originally revolutionary potential.

The subsequent analysis will show that Google, which is a hegemonic attempt to organize ‘all the world’s information’, progressed in a similar fashion. It will address how the logic of Open Source, in combination with the Californian philosophy of academic excellence found in Google’s motto ‘Don’t be evil’, is merely an excuse to place itself under the banner of capitalist abundance, the turbo-capitalism’s illusion of unlimited growth and extremist anarcho-capitalism. They are selling the myths that more, bigger and faster always equates with better and that the ‘I’m-feeling-luckybutton’ will immediately and effortlessly satisfy all our desires with a simple click of the mouse. In other words: it creates the comfortable illusion that you will be taken care of if you create a Google account, and that there is nothing more that you will need.

Unfortunately, this claim of informational totalitarianism is not as ridiculous as it may sound. Although it has been established many times that there is nothing more to produce, and – more importantly – that unlimited growth is a chimera (even in the digital world), run-ups of the next useless and shiny gadget continue to appear. Our weary world could use the blow that the uncomfortable knowledge of limited growth would bring. We need to start looking around, looking at each other and exchanging what we need. We have to imagine and build something meaningful together.



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