11 thoughts on “Google Wins SF WiFi Contract with Earthlink”

  1. Google’s model is simple and brilliant. They are focusing on *increasing use* and thus reaping the benefits as the web’s top advertising provider.

    Ad supported WIFI, free laptops for the poor, increasing support for mashups, etc. But it’s not just good business it’s good internet stewardship. Google is keeps finding the “win-win” situation and deserve a LOT of credit for this.

    However I still don’t understand where MSN, Yahoo, ASK, et al are in all this – they have similar capabilities but …. do not exploit them rationally.

  2. Joe, call me a bit of an luddite, but is it really good that the model behind all this is advertising? I know advertising and marketing is bread and butter to many on this blog, and so I’m probably in the extreme minority here. But with all respect, I feel as a society and as a culture we all die a little inside the more and more all our societal conversations turn from honest discussion, debate and exchange of ideas, into marketing messages. The more we accept marketing and advertising as the grease for the wheels of our society, the more we come to depend on advertising for everything we do, the more in service of (enslaved to?) advertising we become. And that has a cost.

    I admit that I am stating my case a bit too strongly, esp. using terms like “enslaved” and “die a little”. I don’t mean to start a flame war. I’m just starting to get a little tired of advertising everywhere. Even so-called “relevant” advertising. It is just slowly taking over everything. Ads before movies that I’ve paid to see. Ads above the urinals in nightclubs. And now ad-supported WIFI? Is nothing safe?

  3. Funny you mention that JG – I just was blogging about some test airline flight searches at Google that gave me ads *within the organic listings*. LOTS of ads.

    I’m more concerned about the deceptive practice of placing ads outside the sponsor areas than the ads themselves, but your points are well taken and I don’t think you are overstating the fact that commercialism is killing a lot of intelligent dialog, even online.

    This is less of a problem here at Searchblog but it’s a HUGE one at TV news, especially FOX where commerical concerns even trump their jingoistic patriotic nonsense and generally trump journalistic integrity as well.

    The solution is clear but hard to implement. We remain a clueless primate and need another few hundred thousand years of evolution.

  4. Do we really have to wait a few hundred thousand years??

    The thing about advertising is that it’s not always bad…I just wish companies would start to offer users more control over when, how, and what they’ll bombard us with.

  5. JG, of course you’re completely right, but you have to realize what industry this is. I’ve worked around seo for years now, and it was only recently that it started sinking into my head that seo is just what the best people say it is: marketing.

    So if you’re looking for a sane career that doesn’t, as you absolutely correctly note, kill you inside a little bit with each day, then you should probably step away from this stuff while you still can. That’s what I’m doing.

  6. Very interesting comments all. Thanks. Joe: Yes exactly. “Fox news” is a great shorthand for the type of path I worry about us heading down. Not intentionally. But nevertheless where we’ll end up, unless we do intentionally and conscientiously avoid doing so. (An aside: there is a related article in the NYT about newspaper headlines slowly becoming “search engine optimized”. I used to live in the UK, and it would be an utter tragedy if British newspapers lost their snarky headlines in order to be more easily googlitized.)

    And Greg: My own role in all this is as a search-algorithmic researcher. I am trying to make the organic results better, less dependent on SEO and advertising. Perhaps that is a luxury that allows me these viewpoints on marketing. But I can’t step away from this stuff any more than you can, because it’s the very fabric of what our society is becoming. Even if we never worked in search again, we would still be consumers of search. Search is big, and Battelle is right when he says it will only keep getting bigger. And if advertising is the primary vehicle that is pushing search forward and through our society, I think that is going to have serious repercussions on our social and cultural milieu. Imagine replacing all librarians with marketers. Again, at the risk of overstating my case, I kinda feel like this is what is happening.

    Anyway, I very much appreciate blogs such as this one, because there is indeed a high level of intelligent and informed discussion. And I don’t think such intelligent discussions like this will go away in the future, either. I just think that (ironically) they will be harder to find.

  7. JG Good points again. I see the “the big problems” as those perils of hyper-commercialism combined with our own selfish tendencies to short sightedness, short attention span, sex, drugs, rock and roll MP3s. Maybe Alexander Hamilton was right?

  8. Similarly, when I go to Kroger’s (a huge grocery chain in the southwest), they now have dozens of flat-screen tv’s showing the “produce channel” or “baby channel” ad nauseum. Advertising, of course. Shoot, CBS is even planning on creating (8-minute) shows for these televisions, so that there’ll be an audience for the advertising (so we’ll be more likely to stand there watching).

    Annoying, frightening … and I wish I could program a remote to do my fellow shoppers a favor turn ’em off as I walk by. At some point, enough is enough.

    Caveat: I’m posting from Houston, where billboards nearly outnumber trees as you drive our freeways, so perhaps my perspective is tainted.

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