August 10, 2005
Is Google Newsworthy?
Have you ever noticed that Google and Apple seem making a lot of news in recent months? Both good news and bad news; there seems to be a headline a day, even on days when not much seems to happen. The two tech companies are certainly doing a ton of interesting things, but once in a while I wonder if they are actually generating more news than Microsoft and IBM. The two latter companies have a far larger number of employees and are probably doing a far larger number of things.
And even if Google and Apple are actually doing more interesting work (maybe they are!), both Google and Apple are famously tight-lipped about their ongoing work. There should actually be less news to write about these two companies.
So then why does there seem to be more news about Google and Apple?
Is Google really Interesting?
Since I have never worked for Apple, I will leave it to somebody else to speculate on Apple's newsworthiness. But certainly Google is an interesting company for people to write about. It has always been technically amazing.
But Google's story has always been more interesting than that - they wear "do no evil" on their sleeve. Google has no tricky platform lock-in strategies like much of the rest of the tech business. They leave themselves vulnerable to customer choice rather than trying to trap their customers - for example, they have a tradition of helpfully linking to competitors such as Mapquest and Yahoo in their "onebox" results.
Googlers are the good guys. I remember in 2000 wondering if I should try to work at Google, wondering if these idealistic geeks would ever have a chance at surviving in the marketplace. (And after I joined four years later I found the company more interesting than I imagined.)
So I always figured that reporters write about Google because it is such an interesting company.
But is Google really Newsworthy?
Then I stumbled on the chart at the right (thanks to CNET's Chris Jablonski), and after my initial flash of satisfaction ("yup, it's true, Google is pretty interesting"), I had a twinge of doubt and skepticism about the news outlets.
Do reporters write about Google because there are so many interesting things to write about? Or because stories about Google get more pageviews? Is Google truly newsworthy, or is the company just a Technology Celebrity, good fodder for Explosive Headlines and Tabloid Writing? It is not just when reading Andrew Orlowski that I sometimes scratch my head at the news and wonder what the headliner Google Inc. has to do with the dug-up topic of the day.
Ah well, people will have different opinions about reporters and their work. But in the end more news is probably better than less, even if the motivations behind the reporters are not as pure as the driven snow. It seems unavoidable to me that news must be understood to be Coverage, not Truth.
And it does not change the fact that around here Googlers are certainly working on a lot of cool things, some things that might even be historic someday if they actually work out. Googlers are truly obsessive about making the world a better place: it is a deeply ingrained sentiment you can feel here from the top of the company down to the bottom. After working at a bunch of tech companies, I can say the depth to which the "do good work for humankind" philosophy is pursued here is pretty unusual. It is all certainly interesting. Maybe even unique.
Maybe even newsworthy.
But silly me - who am I to say what is news?Posted by David at August 10, 2005 10:20 PM
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