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Google: Snobby, Sanctimonious, Loathsome


If its creators had gone with an accurate name, they'd simply have called it "Smug."

Editor's Note: Welcome to Love It or Hate It, a regular dual-column feature that will capture the love-hate relationship America has with some of its biggest, most controversial companies. For past columns, click here. For the opposing view on Google, see Google: Handling Power Responsibly.

A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before but there is nothing to compare it to now. Naturally, I'm referring to Google (GOOG), the global technology company. And yes, I stole those two sentences from Thomas Pynchon. Or did I? The truth is, I pulled them off an Internet search... a Google search. So the way I look at it, they're the ones doing the actual dirty work; I'm just doing the fencing.

LoveIt/Hate It
"The perfect search engine," says Google co-founder Larry Page, "would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want." I know he said this because I typed the phrase "Do No Evil" into my web browser just moments ago and the page that popped up is Google's Corporate Information page, "Our Philosophy: 10 Things We Know to Be True."

Presumably, Google search understood exactly what I meant by "Do No Evil" and then returned exactly what I needed. Which is true. Also, infuriating.

"You can make money without doing evil."

That's number six on the list of 10 things Google knows to be true. It's also the chief reason I hate the company so much. In the early days when Larry Page and Sergey Brin were trying to come up with a name for their search engine, I imagine it must have been a toss-up between "Google" and just going with the name "Smug." Smug is short, easy to remember, and captures all of the things Google as a company does and is without either irony or affectation.

You can make money without doing evil. Think about that for a moment. The smug superiority and hypocrisy implicit in that statement is actually quite shocking. Is it well intended? I'm not so sure. It's somewhere between a caustic observation and a boast.

Speaking of boasts, check out the sweet digs the "Googlers" settle into each day at the main corporate office: "Our corporate headquarters, fondly nicknamed the Googleplex, is located in Mountain View, California."


Now, click on that Google map image above to enlarge it. What in the hell are all those colored things in the middle of Googleplex? Thanks to Google mapping and imaging, I can show you exactly what they are, a fact which I hate.

Patio-table umbrellas? Seriously? God, I hate that they have brightly-colored patio table umbrellas.

But wait, I'm just getting started. There's plenty more to hate about Google. In fact, the company's "About our offices" page helpfully lists them all. Here are a few things you might see in a Google workspace:

"Local expressions of each location, from a mural in Buenos Aires to ski gondolas in Zurich, showcasing each office's region and personality."

Ski gonodolas. I hate ski gondolas.

"Bicycles or scooters for efficient travel between meetings..."

Unless you are a bicycle messenger or Lance Armstrong you shouldn't ride a bicycle to office meetings. The scooters I don't particularly hate, but only because it's Google and since I hate Google so much in the first place I'd naturally expect everyone there to ride scooters to meetings. In fact, it's the first image that comes to mind when I think of Google; employees having too much fun -- woo hoo! -- riding scooters in circles around all the brightly colored patio-table umbrellas and spilling Japanese Pocky sticks everywhere. Every couple of hours someone has to perform the Heimlich Manuever on one of their co-workers who fell off a scooter and lodged a chocolate-covered Pocky stick in their throat.

"Lava lamps; massage chairs; large inflatable balls."

The lava lamps are an unconscionable office accessory, as are the massage chairs, unless you happen to be decorating a Fulton Street "Health Spa."
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