Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Voice's unrequited love

I will give the Voice that Google should be more responsive to the local newspaper. I just seriously doubt that anybody cares.

Here's a fun game to play with last week's Voice editorial complaining about the repeated brush-off: Imagine that an ex wrote it about you, and change the text accordingly. For example, the fourth paragraph becomes:
For my part, I regularly send e-mails to him, inquiring about his plans, among other things. (Like the rest of his gender, he communicates primarily through e-mail.) The most common response I've received is no response at all. The second-most common response is, "I'll get back to you" — followed by silence.
The problem with this analogy is that Google and the Voice were never dating in the first place, despite once contemplating marriage. It has always been hard to get information out of the company, and in many respects was much harder before IPO.

In any case, the jilted lover bit is unbecoming of the editorial pages of an award-winning paper like the Voice, and certainly no way to catch the Town Crier.

I would like to see a story in the Voice to the effect of "Is the GooglePlex good for Mountain View." It is an important question that the Voice is in the best position to answer. Two weeks ago, the Voice listed the tax revenues the city gets from the company, but that was about it. The story neglected to mention the other public agencies that also benefit from these funds, nor any of the other projects, large and small, for which the company should get some credit: outfitting the city with a free wireless network, spiffing up the bookmobile and sponsoring the firefighters' pancake breakfast, to name a few. (I think the Voice's critique of the company for adding to traffic is misguided: Google has long had one of the best transportation demand management programs around).

The company's success is also, it would seem, a contributing factor to Mountain View's ongoing gentrification. This is a good thing if you already own your home, unless you own your home next to the newest location for a whole bunch of luxury homes. If the Voice wants to complain about Google, it should complain about how the city's poorer residents have had to move away or crowd in with their friends and families as their apartments have become more expensive or been converted to condos. It's certainly a more compelling story to tell than the one about the company not returning reporters' e-mails.

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