26 posts categorized "Google"

C Class Citizens

One way for founders or inside groups to retain control of a growing company is to cause the company to authorize "Class B" Common shares, with supervoting rights.

Another way is demonstrated by what Google has just done: amend the company charter to establish a "Class C" of non-voting shares.

Novotes

Google's newly amended charter calls the new class, not "Class C Common," but "Class C Capital Stock." This perhaps emphasizes that the stock is not to have voting rights.

Here's the key, operative provision from the amended charter:

"Except as otherwise required by applicable law, shares of Class C Capital Stock shall have no voting power and the holders thereof, as such, shall not be entitled to vote on any matter that is submitted to a vote or for the consent of the stockholders of the Corporation."

At the same time, the amended charter goes on to spell out rights of the Class C, to make clear that the holders have economic rights comparable to those of voting common stock. Here's a general statement of fundamental equality (qualified, of course, by the proviso at the beginning of the sentence):

"Except as expressly provided in this Article IV, Class C Capital Stock shall have the same rights and privileges and rank equally, share ratably and be identical in all respects to the Common Stock as to all matters."

There's even a kind of backstop protection, in that the Class C Capital Stock is made to convert into Class A Common Stock in certain circumstances:

"Immediately prior to the earlier of (i) any distribution of assets of the Corporation to the holders of the Common Stock in connection with a voluntary or involuntary liquidation, dissolution, distribution of assets or winding up of the Corporation pursuant to Section 2(c) or (ii) any record date established to determine the holders of capital stock of the Corporation entitled to receive such distribution of assets, each outstanding share of the Class C Capital Stock shall automatically, without any further action, convert into and become one (1) fully paid and nonassessable share of Class A Common Stock."

Should you value a non-voting share differently to a share with a vote?

Photo: gaelx / Flickr.

The Heisenberg Principle of Information Technology

I read a small pamphlet the other day, Google: Words beyond Grammar, by Boris Groys. It makes the provocative claim that our generation's ubiquitous dependence on the Google search box results in the detachment of words from grammar.

You should read it yourself, because I'm not going to attempt to be faithful to the author's terminology - I'm going to use my own diction - but the basic point is that words become self sufficient units of cross-reference, rather than functions of arguments, propositions, understandings, all as made meaningful only through grammar and syntax.

Screen shot 2012-04-28 at 10.12.15 AM

A paradox surfaces from this development. If words become, not functions of books, chapters, paragraphs, conversations, individual sentences; if words instead become the catalogue of the infinity of their respective uses and references: how is it that we acknowledge that Google must necessarily serve us results from a finite sampling?

471px-Marinetti-MotagneThere is also a flaw in the author's argument, I think. The flaw arises from what I believe is his presupposition that Google searches are not overly dependent upon Google's presupposition about the persona it is serving (the person to whom it is delivering the search results). The author does allow that the Google search methods take into account the particular searcher's prior queries. But Google today does more than that. And in the future, search will not depend upon the deliberate or even unwitting actions of the searcher. Google, or it successors, will affirmatively bring to bear, or search for, information* about the searcher herself, before or in connection with her searches. That is, it may not be possible to perform a search that is not inflected by a constructed identity of the searcher. Will this be the Heisenberg principle for information technology?

But just as there is nothing new under the sun, there is nothing original in what Google hath wrought. The author brings up the word clouds assembled in the early 20th Century by Tommaso Marinetti. (Pictured here is "Assembly Vallate + x + Strade Joffre", 1915.)

Groys's pamphlet is cool because he brings together tech, art and the philosophy of science. It is one among "100 Notes," published in anticipation of the dOCUMENTA (13) art event, coming up in June in Kassel, Germany.

*"Information" here denoting a catalogue of cross-references, and perhaps inferences related to (affirmatively associated with) the searcher; but, again, not necessarily any "meaning" about the searcher.

2016 is just around the corner . . .

A recent piece in the Bits blog, about Google powering up to lobby in DC, made me visit the FEC website to poke around for what kind of campaign contributions Google's PAC might be making.

Pictured below is a detail from a "SCHEDULE B (FEC Form 3X) ITEMIZED DISBURSEMENTS" filed by Google Inc. NetPAC.

Screen shot 2012-04-23 at 9.21.40 PM

Now what's Rob Portman doing, in 2012, raising money to fight off a primary challenger to his Senate re-election in 2016? Hadn't he better be acting like he'd be running for re-election as Vice President in 2016? Might Google be going out of its way to get Portman's attention now?

Gotta admit that Google appears to be transparent about its politicking. It's sad, though, isn't it - something like a triumph of the intransigent - to think that Google is playing the same game as the telecom companies and the banks.

Drafting

One of the pleasures of redlining is that you can map a tour of changes made in a landscape of text.

I haven't yet had a chance to read Google's overhauled privacy policy. The changes look to be so substantial, it may be difficult for a redline to throw discrete instances of wordsmithing into relief.

That said, here is a small section of the anticipated Google privacy policy, marked against the version to be replaced. This passage, at least, does yield the experience only a redline will afford.

Screen shot 2012-01-25 at 10.26.20 PM

I don't have time this morning to fully narrate a tour. I'll just call out three highlights:

  • The implication that Google's security efforts will meet a certain industry or societal standard ("appropriate") is elided if not entirely replaced with the promise that Google will "work hard."
  •  Google itself is added as a beneficiary of its security efforts.
  • "Google employees, contractors and agents" go from working on Google's "behalf," to working "for" Google. This I think introduces the possibility of agency, or a degree of it, for which Google itself may not be responsible.

G+ Validates Twitter

A byproduct of Google+ that I'm enjoying is that it validates Twitter.

It's cool that Google+ sets out to do so much -- replace Facebook; organize photos; be a newsfeed; somehow be a micro-blogging platform in and to itself; and other and more -- but it's so nuanced that it's demanding.

Manwoman2AAnd so I find myself returning more often to the Twitter stream and with a renewed appreciation for how straightforward and comprehensible it is.

It's easier to consume tweets. And it remains intoxicatingly simple to post them.

This is mostly the mobile me talking. On the web, the G+ promises to integrate with everything else on or through the Chrome browser. Maybe the Twitter is going to be the ubiquitous stream that is platform agnostic. (Maybe some stripped down G+ mobile client will make G+ less exhausting on the phone -- though it's still intoxicating how much you can get around G+ on the android app.)

I still prefer the old Twitter over the new Twitter, but even the new Twitter is much more like Twitter than G+. So I credit G+ for not complaining about the forced transition (old Twitter seems to have been totally phased out now).

In short, Twitter is feeling more like that bare bones, universal public communication utility that, well, we know it really isn't; but relatively speaking, in contrast to the Google, it feels lighter.

One Google After Another

Among the perils of writing fiction set in the near future, novelist Charles Stross said last night in Seattle, are that you can mistakenly refer to technologies that were launching when you were writing, but have cratered by the time the book is out.

2011-07-26_19-36-11_457

Google Wave is one such example, he admitted, in answering a question that questioned his reference to a Wave-like product in "Rule 34," the new novel from which he read at the University of Washington bookstore.

But Wave could come back! He noted that Google had turned it over to Apache, and that a not-too-distant future could be more receptive to what Wave has to offer.

Google+ is not going to crash like Wave, nor implode at launch like Buzz. It already has essential traction in the techie crowd, more so than Quora, probably more so than Facebook (which may be able to defend its franchise among the general population; we'll see). G+ also has a shot to keep morphing and exploring what it might become, maybe for as long a period as Twitter did.

Next up: Google Government, whereby federal power is devolved to regional bodies that will unapologetically raise taxes; build public broadband and public transport; manage free schools and hospitals; and export the crazies to their own Disneyland where goverment keeps its hands off their Medicare drug benefits and armies are equipped and fed with tax cuts.

Meditation on Envy

You were supposed to have your own key.
Apologists extended the trade window and the league was, well,
Funded. At twilight in an obscure Danish kitchen
A rediscovered Indian spice made a difference.

Fresh weather breaks like color in a Brazilian slum
As we plod our redoubt to the secure cantina
Smothered in shade. Google+ attends
The pours of attractive barkeeps shot by shot.

It's hard to look up from your diligence to let go
Of knowing everyone knows no better
Than the last time you logged in, that everywhere’s
A possibility including perhaps the place you’ve plunked yourself down.

Truth is unfashionable, but already paid for.
I lost the reason. I'm genuinely happy you took it. Can I touch it?

©2011 William Carleton

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