Google Base vs. Microformats

[Here’s an article]( that manages to take a good idea and back it up with sources that make the author seem like an idiot.

To answer the first and foremost of these maligned quotes: “al Qaeda” means “the ring”, not “the base”. As well, the implication that Google is in any way related to fundamental Islamic terrorists is entirely without merit and criminally melodramatic.

Now, with that out of the way, we can talk about Google Base and microformats.

While I agree that microformats should be the way for the Web to go, hoping that Google would just blindly ignore their shareholders and not do things the way they’ve always done them is pretty damn naive. Let’s get one thing straight right now: Google is a public company now. That means, regardless of their company slogan, that they will in fact occasionally be “evil”. Since “evil” generally means selfish, and since all public companies’ interests are to their shareholders, then it makes no sense to expect them to do anything other than to strive for increased shareholder value. For them, microformats do not increase shareholder value.

As far as Google itself goes, expect more “uncooling” and general corporatization from them in the future. They went IPO. That’s pretty much all you need to know. This even happened to Apple when Gil took over and it took Steve Jobs to come back (and several years of him being back) to get their cool image back. And, oh yeah, Apple’s stuff is routinely the most expensive in its market. And yet their customers don’t bitch… why is that?

The nature of a modern, capitalistic, American public company is to seek increased profits over all else. People who don’t want this to happen to their company simply don’t go public, because like it or not, that is what it means to be a public company. If microformats don’t fit into their model of increasing profits (and believe me, they don’t, or at least not yet), then it should be no surprise that they eschew them for a more centralized form of data mining.

As for, the idea behind the “crawling it has benefitted from to the tune of $108 billion”, well that’s the biggest naievity in the whole article, in my opinion. Where is it written that Google has to give something back? I actually can understand this idea more than the others, since it stems from the idea that money = wealth, something that Paul Graham has talked about at great length and hopefully cleared up any misconceptions about that being the case.

Now, I’m sure that all but a few people who read this will think that I’m defending Google or against microformats, but neither of those are true. I am very interested in microformats and have great hopes for them. And Google, as I’ve said, is a public company and will increasingly become a target for malign and distaste. My issue is mainly with the rabid Slashdot-powered crowd that doesn’t bother to read closely enough before posting to Digg.