Sunday, June 18, 2006

Google shill is Google's competition!

One of the most perplexing realities of this young century is how a businessman who flopped so terribly gets re-made as ... a businessman incapable of screwing up.

That the businessman in question isn't actually a businessman at all - you could fairly describe him as a Fad Slave who flits from one geeky revolution he doesn't understand to the next geeky revolution he really doesn't understand - is just one of the stranger aspects of Mr. Battelle's curious "journalism" career.

Today, the hype-addict propagandist of the worst aspects of Silicon Valley is not remembered for the glossy technology magazine he inflated into the most vulgar Internet Bubble on record. True, he is vaguely remembered as the editor of the Industry Standard trade journal, but it's a strangely empty memory. (WikiPedia entries are known for extensively covering the Silicon Valley industry, yet the Battelle entry is comically terse and the Industry Standard entry refers only to a 1982 "progressive rock album.")

Imagine if Richard Nixon was remembered as a president (a very important job) but not as the man who stained the American presidency more than any other man who ever held that august office.

Mr. Battelle apparently re-emerged as the expert chronicler of Google, the search company. He wrote a book about Google Inc. and launched a "blog" that seems to speak of nothing but Google. The short items on the blog are almost exclusively about the glories of Google and the wonderful advertising business of Google. His book was reportedly such a celebration of all things Google that the huge Silicon Valley company bought thousands of copies to hand out to Google employees as inspirational reading.

Yet during the past year or so of this very public proselytizing for Google and especially its advertising business, Mr. Battelle was launching his own advertising business to take advantage of the very world he found through his Google studies.

The apparent revolution wrought by Google was to offer advertising revenue to those small websites that couldn't ever get a deal with the Internet Bubble-era online ad agencies such as DoubleClick. Suddenly, anybody with a website about Star Trek could make a few bucks (or a fortune) just by letting Google place advertising there.

Is there something unseemly about Battelle remaking himself as a Google cheerleader while simultaneously launching an advertising company preying on that exact same market?

Mr. Battelle has the answer, and he thinks he's quite innocent:

"I'm a big fan of AdSense and I don't think we're directly competitive. You could make the argument, but you could make the argument that everyone's competitive with everyone in the publishing business," he told Forbes magazine in March. "You could certainly argue there is potential competition that might be posited in the short-to-middle-term future."

The Forbes reporter pressed on. Isn't anyone at Google concerned about your scheme?

"Very large company, Google. We're a tiny, itty, bitty company. I don't think we necessarily merit a lot of consideration."

More on this fascinating subject, later ....


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