This week in News from the Goolag: Crony Capitalism is Back; McGuiness Blasts Google’s Profit From Piracy; Don’t Be Evil the Bookmarklet; Schmidt Pans Income Inequality Says Let Them Eat Looms

Crony Capitalism is Back Baby!!  Big Finish for 2011 Google drops $3.7m in Q4 brings company to $9.68 million for 2011–and this doesn’t include Net Coalition, Creative Commons, Free Press, Public Knowlege, Sunlight Foundation, Berkman Center…and so on.

Politico Morning Tech Blog reported (Politico Morning Tech Blog), “Dave Levinthal reports: ‘Lobbying spending by the nation’s most prominent political influencers largely rebounded during last year’s fourth quarter, in part reflecting aggressive special interest campaigns concerning health, trade, employment, energy, telecom and technology issues, a POLITICO analysis of new federal disclosures indicates.” It continued, “For Google, the $3.7 million it spent in the final three months of last year brought the company to a record high $9.68 million, and that’s before adding in the amount spent by Motorola Mobility, which Google is in the process of acquiring. Facebook posted much less than Google in Q4 2011 — just $440k — but it still meant it was the first million-dollar year for the social giant. (Consider last year, Facebook didn’t even cross the $500,000 threshold.).”

Paul McGuiness Blasts Google’s Profit from Piracy–The Register posted Achtung, Google! U2 boss blasts ‘monopoly’ for free-for-all and wrote, “Music manager Paul McGuinness has previously used the annual MIDEM show to chastise ISPs – but this year it’s the Chocolate Factory that has earned his ire. ‘Why are they not trying to solve the future in a more generous way?’ he asked of Google.” The article continued, “The quick answer is one you already know: Google remains a big fish in a small pond under its current advertising-based data-mining operation, and that’s something McGuinness perhaps seems to appreciate: ‘Never underestimate the ability of a monopoly to defend itself,’ he said. ‘Ultimately it’s in their interests that the flow of content will continue. And that won’t happen unless it’s paid for,’ said McGuinness, Billboard reports.”

The Valley Strikes Back Against Google Censorship on “Search Plus Your Ass”

Searchblog reports (Facebook To Google: Don’t Be Evil, Focus On The User) that a Facebook engineer created a Firefox browser bookmarklet that “he had titled – in a nod to Google’s informal motto –  ‘Don’t be evil.’ For those of you who aren’t web geeks (I had to remind myself as well), a bookmarklet is ‘designed to add one-click functionality to a browser or web page. When clicked, a bookmarklet performs some function, one of a wide variety such as a search query or data extraction.  When engaged, this ‘Don’t be evil’ bookmarklet did indeed do one simple thing: It turned back the hands of time, and made Google work the way it did before the integration of Google+ earlier this month….We had a lively discussion about the implications of Facebook actually releasing such a tool. I mean, it’s one thing for a lone hacktivist to do this, it’s quite another for a member of the Internet Big Five to publicly call Google out…He added, “Today, the hack goes public. It’s changed somewhat – it now resides at a site called ‘Focus On The User’ and credit is given to engineers at Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace, but the basic implication is there: This is a tool meant to directly expose Google’s recent moves with Google+ as biased, hardcoded, and against Google’s core philosophy (which besides “don’t be evil,” has always been about ‘focusing on the user’).”

Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan commended that hack:  “The companies behind the tool feel Google hasn’t focused on what’s best for its users with Search Plus Your World. They have a good point. But the tool makes this point better than all the debates that have happened so far around Search Plus Your World, because it shows what Google could have done to better serve searchers, if it had wanted to.”   See also (All Things Digital; Facebook’s Blake Ross Leads “Don’t Be Evil” Effort to Restore Diverse Social Results in Google Search)

Eric Schmidt steps in it again, according to Huffington Post’s Peter S. Goodman. (Huffington Post; Eric Schmidt At Davos Praises Globalization, Dismisses Jobs Crisis) Schmidt was on a panel last Friday at the World Economic Forum debating the proposition “Why has the success of innovative giants such as Google and Apple failed to directly translate into significant numbers of jobs? How do we generate large numbers of high-quality paychecks in such times?” Schmidt said, “I assume that everybody here agrees that globalization is wonderful.” “Schmidt pushed back against the premise, arguing that while Google itself employs about 30,000 people around the globe — a fraction of the count at manufacturing giants such as Caterpillar and Boeing — the company has indirectly generated millions of additional jobs and trillions of dollars in wealth by offering up a valuable platform for commerce.”

Goodman continued, “Yes, he acknowledged, many nations on Earth — not least the United States — are mired in a crisis of joblessness…What has been happening since the advent of the Internet ‘is no different from the loom when it was invented, and I don’t think any one of us would want to eliminate the loom,’ Schmidt said. ‘This is how the world gets better. This is how the GDP grows. This is how we leave a better world for our children.’” Schmidt argued that “governments have to do something that’s hard,” and that “they have to go back and invest in human capital. There are plenty of companies in the U.S. and other countries I’ve visited that are very short of highly skilled workers.”  Next he’s going to start in about the buggy whips.

Goodman concluded, that “For a clearly brilliant man who likes to advertise his passion for data, Schmidt’s explanation sounded both lame and self-serving…One defining characteristic of the Internet boom is the degree to which it has concentrated the wealth in a limited number of hands. As is often noted, income inequality in the United States has expanded to levels not seen since the 1920s. Overall average taxation as a share of national economic output is lower than at any time since 1950.”