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Does Google Hate America [Slate]

Old 06-14-08, 10:45 AM
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Does Google Hate America [Slate]

http://www.slate.com/id/2193482/?from=rss
It all started with Burning Man. In 1998, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin took time off from coding search algorithms to jump in a car, drive to Nevada, and bake in the desert with circus performers and ecstasy-addled freaks. On a lark, the two men tweaked Google's logo to tip off hipsters that they were out of the office, planting a Burning Man image inside one of Google's letters. "They wanted to communicate with the users, in a fun, lighthearted way, that they were going to be away," says Dennis Hwang, Google's Web-master manager. "Anyone in the know would know where they were."

That kicked off a tradition almost unique in the history of corporate branding. While it's usually gospel truth never to mess with the logo, Page, Brin, and Hwang tweak the Google home page several times a year on a lark, partly to advance their company's distinctiveness, and partly because they just feel like it. They've posted Google "doodles" to commemorate the invention of the laser, the launch of Sputnik, the World Cup, and Piet Mondrian's birthday. The spirit of their doodles, they thought, was pretty clear: Science is cool, art is cool, let's have a little fun.

But in the last few years, as Google has grown to dominate the world of Internet search, some people have detected a more sinister motive behind its choice of days to commemorate. From the National Review to NewsBusters and InstaPundit, some of the country's most prominent conservative opinion journals and news sites have published stories and blog posts denouncing Google for subtly pushing a liberal worldview in its doodles while steadfastly refusing to commemorate patriotic or religious holidays.

Few keep a closer watch on Google than the editors of National Review. For years, they have monitored Google's doodles in search of value judgments about America. When Google ignored Memorial Day in 2006, editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg wrote on NRO's Corner, "It's kind of sad. They change their logo for all sorts of holidays and occasions. Just last week they paid tribute to Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday. But Memorial Day doesn't seem to rate anything at all." In 2007, online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez wrote, "What, no Easter? I wasn't expecting a risen Christ, but at least an Easter bunny?" Last June 6, Lopez sniffed, "So today is the D-Day anniversary. Today is the day RFK died 40 years ago. So Google is celebrating Diego Velazquez's birthday, natch."

Even when Google commemorates Independence Day, Lopez has looked for hints of a clandestine liberal sensibility. Last year, she printed a comment from a reader who claimed that the American eagle on Google's logo was clutching olive branches—but not arrows, the symbol of America's military might: "I think they've gone with a remodeled 'peace is patriotic' bumper sticker. They just couldn't bring themselves to do something 'American' without making some kind of signal about current policy."

All this vitriol leaves Hwang mystified. All they're trying to do, he says, is bring a little humor and quirkiness to their search engine. "This is just something that grew organically, a culture that developed over the years," Hwang says. "It made Google feel like it wasn't just a cold machine, not just an algorithm." It's not an issue of Google—like, say, American Airlines or America Online—trying to mask its national origin from foreign eyes. Still, almost from the beginning, the company caught hell for corrupting Americans with evil doodles. "We got e-mails complaining that we celebrated Earth Day," Hwang laughs. "I was just surprised. We all live on this planet, and celebrating that just seemed like a harmless thing to do."

Perhaps the most extreme condemnations come from the editors of the populist WorldNetDaily.com, who have all but accused Google of advancing the cause of godless communism. "Google consistently ignores patriotic American holidays such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day," WorldNetDaily's editors wrote last October, "but today it acknowledged an accomplishment of the communist Soviet Union, which launched the Sputnik satellite fifty years ago." The news site, which has also complained that Google's search rankings keep its stories in the basement, even ominously reported that the company misspelled its logo when commemorating Valentine's Day last year. "Previous Valentine's Day logos for Google, obtained by WND, have no such possible confusion for spelling," the site noted. Could Google even have it in for love?

"If you're going to choose to commemorate some really quite bizarre occasions, and never, never in their history, never once commemorating Memorial Day, which is a very significant holiday in the United States, I think that says something about who Google is," says WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah. "By the way," he adds, "I like Google's product. I wish there were another company out there that didn't make me sick to my stomach."

Indeed, the blowback against Google just underscores how ubiquitous and powerful the company has become. Google now accounts for more than 60 percent of all online searches conducted in the United States, and whenever any company grows this indispensable, it seems to acquire a quasi-public quality, as if it has an obligation to make official pronouncements on behalf of the American people. In many ways, Google's quirky coders are still struggling to understand the ramifications of the company's global dominance. When Hwang posted a Thanksgiving doodle with fall colors one year, for example, he got endless e-mails from users in the Southern Hemisphere, who pointed out that they were in the middle of spring, in case he hadn't noticed. "We've never been able to keep everybody happy," he says.

Saturday is Flag Day. Will Google do right by America and stand up for Old Glory? Hwang won't say. "The randomness is very important to us," he says. "Otherwise it wouldn't be any fun." You can be sure the right will be watching.
Doesn't this just get ridiculous after awhile? If you don't do a doodle for Memorial Day or Easter, then the obvious conclusion is that you hate America and you hate religion. What?
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Old 06-14-08, 10:52 AM
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Anyone can find a boogyman if they look for one.
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Old 06-14-08, 10:54 AM
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Where's the poll?
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Old 06-14-08, 11:17 AM
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Old 06-14-08, 11:24 AM
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While I usually enjoy a good laugh at the right-wing blogosphere, I'm going to side with my good friend Rockmjd32 here... I think commemorating Diego Velazquez's birthday on June 6th was, uh... well, let's just say a bit bizarre. I mean, really? Has Google ever celebrating a more obscure figure, especially on a day with as much significance as June 6th?
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Old 06-14-08, 11:33 AM
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Diego Velazquez is hardly obscure btw... i mean come on...

but many here in another thread had things to say about June 6th's logo...

in any great nation or empire, eventually military service and actions begin to be held in contempt by those who think themselves 'enlightened' and educated, this is alive and well in America and has been for decades... anything military is thought of as stupid, immoral, unnecessary, etc... so i suppose it could be that...
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Old 06-14-08, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse
Diego Velazquez is hardly obscure btw... i mean come on...
I'd hazard a guess that 95% of Americans would have no idea who Diego Velazquez is. Even after I Googled him, it really didn't help clear things up.
Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse
in any great nation or empire, eventually military service and actions begin to be held in contempt by those who think themselves 'enlightened' and educated, this is alive and well in America and has been for decades... anything military is thought of as stupid, immoral, unnecessary, etc... so i suppose it could be that...
Uh, I don't really see any evidence to support that claim.
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Old 06-14-08, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
I'd hazard a guess that 95% of Americans would have no idea who Diego Velazquez is. Even after I Googled him, it really didn't help clear things up.

Uh, I don't really see any evidence to support that claim.
The point is, Google is free to commemorate whoever the hell they want. Just because it's not who or what the right wing wants them to commemorate is not proof that Google hates America or hates religion. If they have a problem with it, it must mean they hate the freedom of speech. Fuck them.
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Old 06-14-08, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by hahn
The point is, Google is free to commemorate whoever the hell they want. Just because it's not who or what the right wing wants them to commemorate is not proof that Google hates America or hates religion.
Oh, yeah, sure. I don't think that Google hates America. I just think they sometimes make some reallly weird choices.
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Old 06-14-08, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
Oh, yeah, sure. I don't think that Google hates America. I just think they sometimes make some reallly weird choices.
It's run by computer geeks. Weird choices are to be expected. It's not like Diego Velazquez was some strong political figure.
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Old 06-14-08, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
I'd hazard a guess that 95% of Americans would have no idea who Diego Velazquez is. Even after I Googled him, it really didn't help clear things up.
i don't measure things based on the opinions, awareness, and understanding of the majority of Americans... according to that measure almost everything is obscure and complicated...
Originally Posted by NCMojo
Uh, I don't really see any evidence to support that claim.
it's revealed in the entire history of mankind on this planet, forget i said anything about that as it's off topic i suppose...
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Old 06-14-08, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
While I usually enjoy a good laugh at the right-wing blogosphere, I'm going to side with my good friend Rockmjd32 here... I think commemorating Diego Velazquez's birthday on June 6th was, uh... well, let's just say a bit bizarre. I mean, really? Has Google ever celebrating a more obscure figure, especially on a day with as much significance as June 6th?
Yeah that was just bizarre to me. I don't think they hate America or anything, I just thought it was funny.
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Old 06-14-08, 02:57 PM
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Google is just offsetting Fox News and their 24-hour US flag waiving icon.
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Old 06-14-08, 03:28 PM
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Poor Diego Velazquez. How dare he be born on June 6th!
I always enjoy Google's doodles. I hope right wing pressure doesn't suck the fun out of them.
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Old 06-14-08, 05:07 PM
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I'd place anyone who thinks this is indicative of some larger anti-American belief system right up there with the moon landing doubters being discussed in the Other thread. I'd also say people who take the time to get upset about something so completely trivial need to find a new hobby, or open their eyes to the very real suffering millions of people experience every day.
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Old 06-14-08, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse
Diego Velazquez is hardly obscure btw... i mean come on...

but many here in another thread had things to say about June 6th's logo...

in any great nation or empire, eventually military service and actions begin to be held in contempt by those who think themselves 'enlightened' and educated, this is alive and well in America and has been for decades... anything military is thought of as stupid, immoral, unnecessary, etc... so i suppose it could be that...
Plus, anything artistic is considered elitist and snobbish to the git-r-dun crowd.
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Old 06-14-08, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by hahn
The point is, Google is free to commemorate whoever the hell they want. Just because it's not who or what the right wing wants them to commemorate is not proof that Google hates America or hates religion. If they have a problem with it, it must mean they hate the freedom of speech. Fuck them.

the least the founders could do is commemorate the people that helped their relatives fight off an invader that killed tens of millions of people
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Old 06-14-08, 10:26 PM
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I must have missed this whole fracas in the last right-wing agenda newsletter. Perhaps I'm not trying hard enough.
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Old 06-14-08, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
the least the founders could do is commemorate the people that helped their relatives fight off an invader that killed tens of millions of people
Maybe they feel that the holiday is better commemorated than being plastered on a silly web logo?
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Old 06-14-08, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by hahn
The point is, Google is free to commemorate whoever the hell they want. Just because it's not who or what the right wing wants them to commemorate is not proof that Google hates America or hates religion. If they have a problem with it, it must mean they hate the freedom of speech. Fuck them.
Yeah, and we're free to say that Google hates America. So what's the point of the thread? Condemning one entity's free speech while mocking another's, it seems.
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Old 06-14-08, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason
Maybe they feel that the holiday is better commemorated than being plastered on a silly web logo?
So they disrespected Diego Velazquez by plastering him on a silly web logo? Those bastards!
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Old 06-14-08, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Hank Ringworm
Yeah, and we're free to say that Google hates America. So what's the point of the thread? Condemning one entity's free speech while mocking another's, it seems.
Do you really not see or understand the difference? I'm sort of sad that this is the second time in a 24 hour period that I find myself asking this same question in the politics forum.
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Old 06-14-08, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by wewantflair
Do you really not see or understand the difference? I'm sort of sad that this is the second time in a 24 hour period that I find myself asking this same question in the politics forum.
Enlighten me!

Some people are right, some people are wrong. We all have equal rights to the freedom of speech. This thread would be perfectly fine and understandable if Hahn hadn't brought up a freedom of speech argument.
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Old 06-15-08, 12:42 AM
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seems to me they go out of their way to be apolitical to avoid precisely this kind of garbage.

but regardless, who gives a shit? they aren't under any obligation to to be non partisan even if they chose to make political statements. that'd be the whole free speech thing that is anathema to worldnetdaily and their ilk.
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Old 06-15-08, 01:59 AM
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Maybe the idea is that google is a search engine - a tool for looking things up - and uses the occasional obscure reference, like Diego Velazquez in this case, so that people might be curious and - oh, I don't know - look it up rather than rely on the standard holiday motif that most people would not even see because they had the day off from work.
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