Web & Social
Google and the social web generally has been reasonably criticized for taking advantage of the people who create content (whether professionally or not) or those who distribute it, like ISPs. There's a conversation to be had about what responsibility Google has to pay its taxes or promote an even playing field of ideas, and whether the ad-supported business model of the web is capable of sustaining quality art or journalism over the long term. Unfortunately for all of us, Harper's publisher John R. MacArthur is apparently more worried that the "googoo-gaga propaganda" of Google and its ilk will drive us into either a proletarian revolution or a dead-souled stupor:
It’s no coincidence that Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Yelp sound like toddler gibberish from the Teletubbies... A psychoanalyst friend tells me that listening to baby talk may be gratifying up to a point, but that constant subjection to it produces unconscious rage in adults. This unending assault of babble potentially could lead to revolutionary conditions in which the new writer-teacher proletariat rises up to overthrow the internet oligarchy and the politicians and government agencies who protect it.
He later compares Google's name to literal desensitization to violence. There are actual points in MacArthur's essay, primarily about the numerous problems with insisting on a price point of zero for just about everything. But it's lost within a combination of factually incorrect statements (like that Google won't return news about Free ISP founder Xavier Niels), apparent misunderstanding about how to actually search Google, and "baby talk" quips that undermine any claim to speaking for a more erudite, thoughtful age. MacArthur has previously attacked the internet, and it's not surprising to see it come up again. But it's a shame to see actual arguments wrapped in utter nonsense when other writers are attempting interesting new models to address the same issues.