If you want a friend get a dog. (Blacky has been one of my dogs since 1996.)
Google is not your friend.
On the other hand Google is not an evil neighbor , either.
We're confusing love with credibility, emotions with business.
Google is a service, it is at your service, just as ZDNet is at your service. Google's value is measured by the credibility you give that service, again just like ZDNet.
What has changed in this decade is that every business, not just every journalism enterprise, has a credibility account. It's a measure of trust, of believability, of faith in a business sense.
I was taught this on my first day of journalism school, although I already knew it, because I had been a publisher, radio voice, and editor starting in ninth grade.
I have not always followed this lesson as well as I might. I have made mistakes, gotten things wrong, offered grand generalizations that were not precisely true.
Each mistake hit me in the credibility.
Without them I might be talking to Katie Couric right now instead of you lot (not that I mind you lot -- I treasure the opportunity ZDNet has given me.) It's just that the difference between the TV anchor chair and the one in my office is credibility.
It has become my favorite quote. Credibility is the coin of the realm.
What Google has proven is that this concept of credibility can be monetized to an extreme degree in the world of the Internet.
Most everything Google does is given away, yet it makes a ton of money. That's the open source principle in action. The reason it makes money is that it gives great value for time, and that's what credibility comes down to -- value for time.
People like Chris Dawson trust the tools and resources Google offers his students, which was his point at ZDNet Education. People like Michael Krigsman are skeptical of what Google does with data about them, as he notes at IT Project Failures.
Both are measuring credibility, which is the key to success online and the key to success in open source. Dawson is touting it, Krigsman chipping away at it. Their views, your views, all our views add up to Google's credibility, which its daily actions can add to or subtract from.
My point is it's all the same thing. What we control as journalists, what you control as a businessperson, what Google has built into an empire, is all the same thing.
Fortunately Google has now corrected me. It's a credible service.