Do we all work for Google now?

Google increasingly controls the Web, but as much because of our lack of competitive vigor than due to its brilliance.

Thursday I blogged that I'd like to see Google (or someone...Apple, Mozilla, someone else?) aggregate social Web applications so that I don't have to trip all over the Web checking what so-and-so is doing on Facebook, then sprinting back to LinkedIn to help someone else on a job search.

Judging from the comments, quite a few people disagree, to a great extent due to mistrust of Google with their data. I can appreciate that, though Google has expressed a desire to open up social-networking applications with open-data policies .

Regardless of promises, many mistrust Google because it's so darned big. This, as James Stewart reminds us in The Wall Street Journal, is not a problem in itself: there is nothing illegal and much to love in a natural monopoly.

Me? I don't have a problem with how big Google is. I just wonder if any of us work for anyone else anymore.

I find myself tweaking headlines and my initial paragraphs to accommodate Google News. As important as Digg, Slashdot, and other content aggregators can be, I find they drive less traffic than top placement on Google.

I'm not alone in this. The newspaper industry is up in arms about Google's power, yet is incapable of cutting Google off because so much of its traffic comes from Google, as CNET reports. Google's Marissa Mayer recently advised the newspaper industry on how to optimize its content for Google, which strikes some as galling given that Google may not be all that efficient at monetizing content.

And yet we cater to Google. We write news and blogs (and tweets and wiki updates and...) for Google. Even dead writers apparently write for Google. We write open-source software that Google consumes. We craft our Web sites to ensure they show well on Google.

Google started by offering a way to search the Web. It now effectively owns the Web because it's such an efficient way to make sense of the Web's noise. Lest we become riled up, Google is trying to make us feel better about its heft with a new charm offensive , as CNET reports.

But we don't really need Google to change. We need competitors to compete. We need Microsoft to start competing in earnest (Yikes! Did I say that??). Microsoft talks about being disruptive in search , but I've yet to see it. Let's hope it's not another tired retread of Google search as both Yahoo and Microsoft have tried before.

Or how about this for disruptive? Perhaps we need Mozilla to step into a role as the Web's primary platform, and really change the rules of the game for Google. For those interested in bludgeoning Google, perhaps there's a way to do that by contributing to Mozilla's Firefox project, and helping to steer it in a way that is beneficial for a non-Google patrolled and controlled Web?

Regardless, we don't need a crippled Google. Instead, we need serious competition. We also need to stop trying to look back to the past of content monetization and instead learn from Google, without necessarily capitulating to Google. Content creators need to change, even as Google's competitors need to change.

Google? It should just keep doing what it's doing.


Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.

About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

    Join the discussion

    Conversation powered by Livefyre

    Show Comments Hide Comments
    Latest Galleries from CNET
    The best 3D-printing projects of 2014 (pictures)
    15 crazy old phones from a Korean museum (pictures)
    10 gloriously geeky highlights from 2014 (pictures)
    2015.5 Volvo XC60: updated tech, understated design
    Busted! CNET readers show us their broken devices (pictures)