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Google needs Therapy?



The quote “Never apologise, never explain” has been attributed to Winston Churchill, though it was first said by Victorian classical scholar Benjamin Jowett. More recently it was the title of an album by Northern Irish post-punk rockers Therapy? (the question mark is part of their name).

This morning, as millions of users screamed at their computer screens in frustration after Google’s service crashed, this quote came to mind as there was a deafening silence company from the tech giant’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

The crash was a wake up call to all of us that we are disproportionately dependent on a few tech oligopolies for work, rest and play. While there have been quite a few folk suggesting some alternatives to Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube and the like, most of us have remained dependent on this one company either through inertia or lack of technical savvy. Will we now start becoming more aware?

As I write – three hours after the incident – there has been no explanation from Google. In a modern communications environment, this is a breach of the golden rule – don’t allow a vacuum to emerge because someone else will fill it.

There could be a number of reasons for Google’s silence:

· The wish to understand the issues before saying anything. If that is so – at least apologise, that is the bare communications minimum;

· Time differences – this happened at 3am in California. Though that’s a poor excuse;

· Arrogance – the feeling we need Google more that it needs us.

If it the last of these, then Google should know that pride comes before a fall. US and European regulators are keen to restrict the power of the US tech giants, China is working on how it can undermine them.

If Google is taking the “never apologise, never explain” strategy then to misquote Australian hip-hop group The Avalanches: “This company needs Therapy.”

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