I was shocked - outraged - even a bit scared that I could utter those words but then I started to look at it. Is the internet becoming boring? I am as deep as the next guy in the internet and I'm not bored but maybe the word is 'conventional'.
That, I agreed with myself is the problem. The internet is becoming conventional - compromised by greed and ego.
Look at the world - fashion, cars, music, our jobs - the same energy that was sucked out of these industries is being sucked out of the internet. If you are a Web 2.0 company in the crosshairs of a VC - well, ya, that IS exciting but what about the users or the employees.
Look at Google. Is Google Unconventional?
Not anymore. The founders’ letter written by Page and Brin states, 'Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.' On the surface, how could anyone conclude otherwise?
After all, the Googleplex offers three free gourmet meals a day, free onsite medical care, beach volleyball, and all the toys a geek’s heart could desire. There are even futuristic Japanese toilets - replete with heated seats and push-button controls to wash and dry your backside - that would make any champion of artificial intelligence proud.
It’s a graduate school campus on steroids that aims to stimulate creativity and teamwork by eliminating the distinction between work and play.
But don’t confuse these artifacts of the culture with the company itself. Google, as a business, turns out to be very traditional. Just like Hewlett-Packard and dozens of other Silicon Valley companies, it was born at Stanford University. It soon moved to a nearby garage off campus and received funding from mainstream Bay Area venture capital firms.
Page and Brin are the formidable dynamic duo, but so were Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Paul Allen and Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. When Page and Brin decided in 2000 to search for an outsider to become CEO, they poached Schmidt, an experienced manager from Novell. He has assembled a traditional management team to operate the business, implemented traditional mechanisms to measure the company’s financial performance, and installed various safeguards against fraud and other activities.
Google certainly tried to hang on to its idiosyncrasies by waiting longer than many other start-ups to offer shares to the public. But as soon as it announced its initial public offering, Google was beholden to the same rules as any other company. Like a rebellious teenager who learns to ditch her mohawk and piercings when she gets a job, Google has grown up.
Google self-righteously protects its crown jewel—its database of how Googlers search—by claiming that it’s in the best interest of its users. But in reality, Google operates in the best interest of Google.
Recently, the U.S. Justice Department sought information from AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google for a child pornography investigation, asking for a week’s worth of searches. The others complied, but Google put up a legal fight for several months before the Justice Department agreed in March to reduce the scope of its request.
Google’s motivation wasn’t protecting people’s privacy; it was a fear of losing its competitive edge. If Google were forced to disclose too much information about how its users search the Internet, then its competitors might be able to decipher secrets of its technology. Google will fight to protect its privacy at all costs - yours ONLY when it's good for business.
The internet has to spread its wings and learn to adapt to the 80% on the worlds population that is not connected. 80 percent!
And I am not talking about silly misadventures of the Web 2.0 wannabes.
French President Jacques Chirac announcement of Franco-German support for the creation of an ambitious new European search engine, called Quaero (“I seek” in Latin) is a plain waste of the French taxpayers money - based on insecurity of the French Polyschool graduate class.
I'm talking about a new wave of innovation that will supersede the current internet; new delivery models that will ensure social and economic wealth being distributed to the lowers caste of online-ees.
It remains to be seen how successfully WSIS and the new formation of UNGIS (PDF, 80 Kb) can navigate the challenges posed by distinct cultures and foreign governments as it aggressively pursues to share the wealth of the Internet Age.
The discussions this morning from a cold dark kitchen in Geneva to the established Web 2.0 in Asia wasn't boring - it was an eye-opener and that's exciting.