Virulent Word of Mouse

September 26, 2011

Should Google go Back to Only Organic?

Filed under: Internet economics and communications policy — Shane Greenstein @ 10:10 pm
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If you have a couple hours to burn on some political theater, go a watch the Senate hearings about Google. Here is a link.

Actually, as someone who foresaw the inevitability of this event, I was rather disappointed. This hearing was pretty anti-climactic. To find this interesting you have to be a serious junkie of antitrust policy in innovative industries.

There just were not many moments of drama. Rather, the hearing resembled the verbal equivalent of a tennis match that rarely left the baseline, volleying back and forth. There were long stretches between the high points, and those stretches did not contain much tension. Nothing kept an audience glued to their seat, as if they were concerned about missing some important moment.

Except once. But that moment came so unexpectedly, and after such a long stretch of nothing.

Actually, upon reflection, that moment illustrated what was wrong with the hearing. The hearing focused on the wrong issues. That is the point of this post. (more…)

August 25, 2011

The Grip of the Grid

Filed under: Amusing diversions,Essays,Online behavior — Shane Greenstein @ 10:30 pm
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The grid has a grip on the rhythms of my family. This is not news, really, but it took a new setting, a vacation, to make apparent what should have been obvious.

This August my wife and I went west for a vacation out west, in this case, to Lake Tahoe. It was a good vacation, but not an escape from the familiar. As with prior vacations, this one became a catalyst for reflecting on the role of information technology in our lives.

Perhaps resistance was futile, but mine was pathetic. I submitted my family to the grip of the grid almost from the outset, when I purposely rented a house with a broadband Internet connection. It even had a wireless modem.

This post will talk about how the grid took over our vacation. Ultimately, the grip of the grid never loosened completely. In retrospect, this was not all bad.


December 9, 2009

Lying and Tiger and Boors, Oh My! Privacy and Prudence Online.

The New York Times ran an article about careless text messaging by philanderers.  Recent news about Tiger Woods’ dalliances inspired the theme. In case you missed it, here is the article.

Here is my point: The article has one intriguing point, many salacious examples, and missed the big picture because it focused on sexual affairs, not human affairs.

The article starts with an intriguing point: text messages do not disappear easily, and that has consequences for those having an affair. The text messages can be used in a court of law, or in the court of public opinion. In short, text is evidence.

I am a frequent reader of online stories. This one caught my eye because of what it did not say next. It expressed no alarm about the erosion of privacy.  On the one hand, it is obvious why it did not explore that theme. On a deeper inspection, however, that silence is worth understanding and exploring. That is what this post will do.


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