Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s upcoming book, The New Digital Age, isn’t pulling any punches. From the “irrelevance” of anonymity to some juicy thoughts on Twitter, the Wall Street Journal published some thought-provoking quotes from the book slated to be released in April.
On Twitter “Twitter can no more produce analysis than a monkey can type out a work of Shakespeare.”
Without more context, we don’t know if this means he means it’s impossible to compose something thoughtful in under 140 characters, or if he’s making a dig at the product itself. Either way, in fairness, Twitter founder Biz Stone had a sense of humor about the occasional silliness of his creation in a Stoli Vodka ad (below):
On Search Engines: “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
This one is likely to send digital civil rights groups into a fit of blogging rage. Anonymity is often thought of as an essential component of privacy. However, Google and Facebook, especially, fear anonymity contributes to the mindless and uninformed dialog that often overwhelms comment sections and search results. Given that Google is the digital deity of search, it may be able to declare anonymity “irrelevant” through algorithmic fiat.
On Cyber War: “It’s fair to say we’re already living in an age of state-led cyber war, even if most of us aren’t aware of it.”
Earlier this week, it was reported that Schmidt’s book claims that China is the world’s “most sophisticated and prolific hacker,” which implies that we’re already in a sort of war with China.
On Journalism: “The effect of having so many new actors involved, connected through a range of online platforms into the great, diffuse media system, is that major media outlets will report less and validate more…. In fact, the elite will probably rely more on established news organizations simply because of the massive swell of low-grade reporting and information in the system.”
As a blogger, I’d be insulted, but Schmidt tells The Atlantic that he reads TechCrunch, so I’ll just assume he’s talking about outlets of far smaller readership (and, if Mr. Schmidt is reading this article, first, thanks for being a reader. Second, please make Gmail faster, the latency is driving me crazy).
Given Google’s influence, the upcoming book isn’t just a philosophical exercise, but a peek into the future of the Internet. For his willingness to put Google’s extensive resources to the cause of democracy, we named Schmidt one of our most Innovative People in Democracy. See the full list here.
[H/T: Alex Howard]