Posts Tagged 'Internet'

Money/Environment

GOOGLE’S MONUMENTAL PLAN TO invest in green technologies, and the company’s ambitious goal of producing “one gigawatt of renewable energy — enough to power the city of San Francisco,” are both admirable and unprecedented. When I saw the news, I took it as a hopeful sign of big business moving towards sustainable practices.

And then came the naysayers from the financial district:

“My first reaction when I read about this was, ‘Is this a joke?'” said Jordan Rohan of RBC Capital Markets. “I’ve written off Google’s competition as a threat to Google’s long-term market share gains. But I haven’t written off Google’s own ability to stretch too far and try to do too much. Ultimately, that is the biggest risk in the Google story.”

Robert Peck of Bear Stearns agreed that “the headlines were a little scary at first” and said investors were initially worried that this was another example of Google “trying to bite off more than they can chew.” [...]

Rohan of RBC Capital Markets said that the returns were not obvious. “The only positive byproduct of this project that would be anything other than environmental,” he said, “is that it might make Google managers and executives even prouder of the fact that they work there, and it may help retain key employees who think their goal is to do good in the world. But I’m really stretching.” [read full]

We still have a long way to come.

Yahoo, Accomplice to a Crackdown

YAHOO IS DEFENDING ITSELF as it gets lambasted by U.S. lawmakers for being complicit in the crackdown and imprisonment of a Chinese pro-democracy journalist (AP):

“While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said angrily after hearing from the two Yahoo executives.

He angrily urged Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and General Counsel Michael Callahan to apologize to journalist Shi Tao’s mother, who was sitting directly behind them.

Shi was sentenced to 10 years in prison for politically “subversive” activities by the Chinese government after Yahoo handed over information about his online activities.

In addition to divulging information about Chinese citizens (Wang Xiaoning was similarly sentenced to 10 years in 2002 after the Internet company provided information to authorities), Yahoo has willingly tailored its search engine in China to filter responses to search terms like “democracy” or “Falun Gong”, doing their part to layer bricks in the Great Firewall of China. They have also engineered their photo-sharing site Flickr in such a way that residents in Singapore, South Korea, Germany and Hong Kong cannot access uncensored content.

And all along the way they’ve made pathetic excuses – this from a Wall Street Journal post back in 2006:

Yahoo’s Terry Semel faced tough questions from Walt Mossberg — and the audience — over the search company’s decision to comply with requests for user data from the Chinese government, which has used the information to pursue dissidents.

“I continue to be pissed off, outraged, and feel very very bad about it,” Mr. Semel said. “But you have to follow the laws of the country you’re in.”

Mr. Semel went on: “I don’t think any one company is going to change a country, and I dont think any one industry is going to change a country. ”

Grade A cop-out bullshit. Where is the sense of responsibility, of courage, of doing the right thing? Yahoo quivers at the thought of losing the Chinese market as though the rest of the world were not enough, and doesn’t hesitate to throw upstanding human beings under the rug if it means holding on to their investment. I’m glad they’re getting the verbal battering they deserve, but I question whether that’s enough.

RELATED NEWS: Chinese environmental defender loses appeal against concocted blackmail charges (TDT loses faith in humanity – see related post).

Traveler’s Tools: Localize Your Photos

I MAY BE TRAILING behind the bandwagon a bit on this, but I when I came upon loc.alize.us through a contact’s flickr photostream today, I was blown away. Perusing digital satellite imagery on this site, I was able to browse gorgeous photos taken by people from around the globe and visualize the very streets on which they were taken (screenshot above).

Flickr’s sluggish geotagging system has always frustrated me; it’s such a cool concept, but the delivery is so slow and the map images are often fuzzy – loc.alize is about as opposite as can be, with quick loading, slick browsing, and crisp satellite maps. A simple java tool provided by Sumaato Labs makes putting your flickr photos on the map extremely simple, a great way to show friends and relatives more precisely where you’ve been as you traipse around the world.


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