Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 7/2/2006Astonishing news from America today, where Google stands accused of stealing lunches and drinking 'spiked Kool-Aid'. (Editorial note: this phrase comes from either the Merry Pranksters hippy commune's habit of testing would-be joiners by parties involving LSD in orange juice, or the Jonestown mass ritual suicide by cyanide in the same refreshing medium.

Tuesday 7/2/2006

Astonishing news from America today, where Google stands accused of stealing lunches and drinking 'spiked Kool-Aid'. (Editorial note: this phrase comes from either the Merry Pranksters hippy commune's habit of testing would-be joiners by parties involving LSD in orange juice, or the Jonestown mass ritual suicide by cyanide in the same refreshing medium. Either way, it is uncomplimentary). Top US network company Verizon is unhappy that the search engine is freeloading – by which, Verizon means, using its broadband network. If Google wants its packets on the Verizon fibre, it better stump up money for the privilege.

This is a mysterious and most perplexing claim. Verizon appears to be unaware of something called the Internet, where individuals and companies at the edge pay good money to service providers who then route packets through each other to other individuals and companies elsewhere at the edge. Everyone gets paid, everyone gets connectivity. It's cheap, it works, and that's why we sign up. If Verizon doesn't like it, it is perfectly at liberty to produce its own network disconnected from the Internet, attract its own users and services and show us all how it should be done.

Oh, I forgot. That's how telcos tried to do it last time: closed, private networks with limited numbers of users paying high prices. You can count on the fingers of an earthworm how many of those services survived the introduction of the Internet. There was no shame in doing that – even Ziff Davis, the now-divorced parent of ZDNet, was going to have something like it called Interchange. ZD managed to work out which jug of Kool-Aid had the poison, though, and late in the beta of the product sold it for the development costs plus a little idiot tax to – yes – a telco. Hee hee.

You don't do it that way and then try to get all the advantages of the Internet as well. That is the Everest of dumb, the Jupiter of silly and the blue whale of idiot. I had hoped, after all these years and so much earth changing success, that people like Verizon had got it. Now, I fear, they stand revealed as lacking that gene and furthermore incapable of useful mutation.

Google is giving such nonsense a robust defence. There are rumours — there are always rumours — that the search engine giant is preparing to roll out its own bandwidth around the world. Verizon and its blind caveworm pals have just disqualified themselves from taking part in the future, and we need alternative systems a that aren't chained at the hip to evolutionary dead ends.

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