Scripting News: Google is no good at being evil.

Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil.”

Paraphrasing HL Mencken’s motto — “When somebody says ‘don’t be evil’– they’re being evil.”

  • The literal quote: “When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.”

Now, the thing to know about evil is there’s good evil and bad evil.

Unlike cholesterol, both are bad for you, but good evil is hard to pin on the purveyor. He makes it seem like someone else is the problem. Bad evil is the kind that comes with a bull’s eye on your back that says “Hit me — please.” Google does the latter kind.

A picture named mrBurns.gifIt would have been so easy to ease the pain of Reader withdrawal by putting some effort into creating a scapegoat. Someone to blame for the trouble users are having. “At least Google did xxx,” their supporters might say. But their withdrawal has all the care and sensitivity of DuPont refusing to clean up a chemical disaster site. Sure it happens all the time, quietly — but the death of Google Reader is not and could not be quiet. All the reporters and bloggers use it! And there’s no one to blame but Larry and Sergey. Who end up looking like Mr Burns on The Simpsons.

The fact that they’re so bad at evil is encouraging. Maybe deep down inside they aren’t. Maybe they truly don’t see that the 1 or 2 million people, or how ever many use GR, are actual people, like members of their family, who liked Google, but now will have a hard time doing that when they associate the name with the pain of withdrawal they feel, from the void of news flow.


About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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