The socialisation of search and state

Google socialismWhile reading an article about Larry Page in Wired magazine this morning, it occurred to me that Google is essentially one, big, global experiment in socialism. At it’s core, Google’s business model is simple: you give them your money (indirectly, by viewing advertising), and in return they give you tools that you use to do good (i.e. for the betterment of society, the flip side of their “do no evil” mantra).

Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on Socialism:

As a form of social organization, socialism is based on relatively equal-power relations, self-management and a reduction or elimination of hierarchical forms of management in the economic structure of society.

Now read this paragraph from the Wired article:

As early as 2001, as the company reached 400 employees, Page worried that a growing layer of middle managers would bog it down. So he and Brin came up with a radical solution: They decided to do away with managers entirely. The HR team begged them not to, but the founders went ahead with the plan.

See any similarities?

Then there’s stuff like their support for open-source software, and the free food for staff, which are signs of socialist idealism. If the Wired article paints an accurate picture, Page – who recently took over from Eric Schmidt as CEO – would like everybody to give Google their money so that the company can “fix” all the “problems” with the world (like Chinese censorship, although their plan backfired badly).

A little while ago I began to wonder whether I really want to live in a world defined by Google’s values. Yes, I was mocked in the comments about our dependence on Google, and it’s true that I won’t (can’t) stop using Google Search any time soon, but I am becoming increasingly wary of all the other free toys – i.e. the rapidly multiplying number of Google Apps.

Am I the only one concerned about the rise of a new kind of corporate communism?