Google and Wikipedia

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Google’s offer to donate bandwidth and servers to Wikipedia. John Dvorak at PC Magazine provides helpful commentary, warning that the “nice guy” attitude of Google might not last forever:

…let’s say that Google is as honorable as it claims and has no intention of doing anything more than making life better for everyone. I know most of the principals there, and they are as normal and sincere as can be expected. Nice guys, actually. But Google itself is a public corporation. It’s its own animal in that regard, with attorneys and bean-counters making the “nice guys” who run the place beholden to the mythical shareholders, who demand results and accountability. Maybe the nice guys do not want to create a situation that locks out the Microsoft crawlers. The needs of the corporate entity, though, demand it. Maybe the nice guys don’t want to take over Wikipedia and clean it up, change the way it works—ruin it—as per the lawyers’ demands. The corporation demands it. Those nice guys are not working for themselves any more. We always have to remember that. They are now guests.

I’ve warned of this in regards to Google’s involvement with digitizing university and research libraries (from Buzzmachine comments):

It’s great that Google is doing this (along with Google Scholar) but Google is not a philanthropic organization, and in the end, they might feel pressure to turn such services into profit centers, which maybe not always be in the public interest.

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