Sam Grobart, New York Times Bts Blog, A Is for Amazon, B Is for Best Buy: “On the Web, there’s another way a single letter can enhance a company’s prestige. Go to Google’s home page or browser toolbar and type a single letter into the search box. The search engine will then drop down a list of suggestions, based on overall search activity (you have to have “show suggestions” checked for this to happen in your toolbar). There are 26 sites that have the distinction of being the first suggestion for each letter of the alphabet.”
Interestingly, except for d for dictionary (where dictionary.com is the first result), all of these searches are for specific brands, rather than generic keywords.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton: Remarks on Internet Freedom, “On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. Now, this challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic. The words of the First Amendment to our Constitution are carved in 50 tons of Tennessee marble on the front of this building. And every generation of Americans has worked to protect the values etched in that stone.”
Good to see the Secretary of State looks to the internet as a tool that can reflect both democratic and totalitarian views and how the US has the imperative to promote democracy through technology.
Susan Crawford, Leadership and persuasion: Internet freedom, “Secretary Clinton’s major address today on internet freedom made the connection between humanity and technology. We’ve been waiting a long time for our political leaders to have the courage to express thoughts like this, to have a vision about the role of the internet in human history, and today the day arrived.”
David Weinberger, Hillary Clinton’s Internet policy speech: “It’s thrilling that a Secretary of State would claim ‘freedom to connect’ as a basic human right. That’s a very big stake in the ground. Likewise, it’s sort of amazing that the State Department is funding the development of tools to help users circumvent government restrictions on access. On the negative side, it’s distressing (but not surprising) that the Secretary of State should come out against anonymity so we can track down copyright infringers. Of course, in response to a question she said that we have to strike a balance so that the anonymity of dissenters is protected even as the anonymity of file sharers is betrayed. I just don’t know how you do that.”
The internet can be a tool to promote democracy and access to information can be a powerful tool. In the same respect protecting profit at the cost of freedom is a choice that most companies are happy to make. Google is taking a bold step with A new approach to China: “These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.”
More from James Grimmelmann, Google and China: “This is inherently a political decision, whichever way it is made. Search shapes how we see and experience the world, and every decision about search engages with questions of values and the law. I think the values Google has chosen with this new decision are good ones: commitments to truth, open discussion, and democracy. It’s acting in a way consistent with its “Don’t Be Evil” motto and I salute them for it.”