Nice Observer piece by Fintan O’Toole:
We have been witnessing a very English farce, but one with a wholly new twist. In this version of Fawlty Towers, it is not Manuel the stereotypical foreigner who goes around saying: “Qué?” and: “I know nawthing!” It is the all-too-English Basil, acting out a pantomime of feigned perplexity.
Yeah, but Fawlty Towers was funny. This farce is anything but.
This morning’s Observer column:
The motto “don’t be evil” has always seemed to me to be a daft mantra for a public company, but for years that was the flag under which Google sailed. It was a heading in the letter that the two founders wrote to the US Securities and Exchange Commission prior to the company’s flotation on the Nasdaq stock market in 2004. “We believe strongly,” Sergey Brin and Larry Page declared, “that in the long term, we will be better served – as shareholders and in all other ways – by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short-term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company.” Two years ago, when Google morphed into Alphabet – its new parent company – the motto changed. Instead of “don’t be evil” it became “do the right thing”.
Heartwarming, eh? But still a strange motto for a public corporation. I mean to say, what’s “right” in this context? And who decides? Since Google/Alphabet does not get into specifics, let me help them out. The “right thing” is “whatever maximises shareholder value”, because in our crazy neoliberal world that’s what public corporations do. In fact, I suspect that if Google decided that doing the right thing might have an adverse impact on the aforementioned value, then its directors would be sued by activist shareholders for dereliction of their fiduciary duty.
Which brings me to YouTube Kids…
This is the kind of thing you really couldn’t make up. From the BBC:
A life-size model of Adolf Hitler used for “selfies” by visitors to an Indonesian museum has been removed.
Pictures shared on social media show people grinning as they pose with the Nazi leader in front of an image of the gates of Auschwitz concentration camp.
It was only when the international community reacted with outrage that the De ARCA Statue Art Museum realised it had caused any offence.
The museum, in Jogjakarta, Java, said it had only wanted to educate.
The selfies show the smartphone owner with the Führer in front of a huge photograph of the front gate of Auschwitz, complete with the Arbeit Macht Frei arch.