The Macalope Daily: Closed is open, evil is good

Apple fans have a tendency to give Google a really hard time these days, but it’s seeming increasingly like it’s richly deserved.

Look, it’s not like we made up the two catchphrases Google’s become known for: “Android is open” and, more famously, “Don’t be evil.”

Google’s already backpedalled so far on the first one that it’s just a speck in the distance. Now Florian Mueller notes some of the delicious low-calorie and heart-healthy irony: “Google to court: Galaxy Nexus code is closed just like that of the iPhone”

In other words, Google will publish whatever it publishes on open-source terms, but the software running on the lead device for the current generation of Android is a secret.

Well, you can’t expect the company to open the code to its open operating system, can you? Come on. Clearly you know nothing about open. (Spoiler: it always wins.)

So, how’s that whole not-being-evil thing working out?

Ehhh, well, it looks like at some point in the company’s history not-being-evil quit to spend more time with its family. According to The New York Times:

Google’s harvesting of emails, passwords and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households in the United States and around the world was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company long maintained, but a program that supervisors knew about, according to new details from the full text of a regulatory report.

The full version draws a portrait of a company where an engineer can easily embark on a project to gather personal emails and Web searches of potentially hundreds of millions of people as part of his or her unscheduled work time, and where privacy concerns are shrugged off.

Wait, was that catchphrase “Don’t be evil” or “Don’t be a weevil”? “Don’t listen to Weezer”?

In fairness to the Lidless Eye of Moutain View, can violating people’s right to privacy really be considered “evil”? It’s certainly not good, but is it up there with the likes of the Third Reich or the Khmer Rouge? See, maybe “Don’t be evil” wasn’t meant as “Don’t be bad,” but more as “It’s OK to be everything up until the point of ‘evil,’ but then stop right there.”

And we really don’t know that there are Google employees eating live puppies. On work time. So, technically, the company is still living up to its standard.

We just weren’t aware how narrow it really was.

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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