Lava lamps won’t save newspapers

Spend a little time at the Googleplex and you begin to believe that business is all fun-and-games and that The Life Google serves a better world.

Paul Allen’s personal spaceship hangs from the ceiling of Building 43. An organic garden supplies produce for healthy cafes across the Mountain View, Ca. campus. There are foosball tables, ping-pong tables and volleyball courts for creative play. There are massage chairs for relaxing; gyms for yoga, dancing and workouts. There are bikes and scooters for people-powered travel between buildings, and a winding path through a whimsical sculpture garden for dog-walking and contemplative jogs. The cubes, yurts and huddle rooms are filled with whiteboards, laptops, lava lamps and large, inflatable balls. Even the men’s rooms are Googlized; messages about groups working on complex problems hang above urinals as if to divert attention from the mundane business below to more Google-worthy issues at eye-level … and the organ between the ears.

I like the environment, but The Atlantic’s James Fallows so loves the the place that he believes Googlers can solve the problem that’s on so many minds these days. He writes that he’s spent a lot of time at the Googleplex over the past year talking with Google strategists and engineers about saving newspapers.

No doubt he passed the garden where
a bronze casting of a T Rex fossil,
a gift from founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, forages among the plants. Fallows has so thoroughly bought
into the cult of Google he reports the company is devising ways to save newspapers from becoming the next dinosaur in the garden.

“Most Internet and tech businesses have been either uninterested in or actively condescending toward the struggles of what they view as the pathetic-loser dinosaurs of the traditional media,” he writes.

Which is entirely wrong.

“Everyone knows that Google is killing the news business. Few people know how hard Google is trying to bring it back to life, or why the company now considers journalism’s survival crucial to its own prospects.”

Which is incredibly naive.

Fallows loses his balance assuming that Google can actually save newspapers. Or wants to. He bought what Google CEO Eric Schmidt sold to newspaper editors at their convention last month: the survival of high-quality journalism is “essential to the functioning of modern democracy.” Like newspaper editors didn’t already believe that?

Fallows acknowledges Schmidt is a family friend and an Atlantic reader. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way that wind blows. He spends many pages arguing that Google is trying to save newspapers rather than killing them.

Okay, Google is working with some newspapers planning to put their content behind paywalls. Those Google engineers are such good friends of journalism and democracy. And their “permanent beta” culture is so innovative ….

But there are a few other reasons, too.


Spend a little time at the Googleplex and you begin to believe that business is all fun-and-games and that The Life Google serves a better world.

Paul Allen’s personal spaceship hangs from the ceiling of Building 43. An organic garden supplies produce for healthy cafes across the Mountain View, Ca. campus. There are foosball tables, ping-pong tables and volleyball courts for creative play. There are massage chairs for relaxing; gyms for yoga, dancing and workouts. There are bikes and scooters for people-powered travel between buildings, and a winding path through a whimsical sculpture garden for dog-walking and contemplative jogs. The cubes, yurts and huddle rooms are filled with whiteboards, laptops, lava lamps and large, inflatable balls. Even the men’s rooms are Googlized; messages about groups working on complex problems hang above urinals as if to divert attention from the mundane business below to more Google-worthy issues at eye-level … and the organ between the ears.

I like the environment, but The Atlantic’s James Fallows so loves the the place that he believes Googlers can solve the problem that’s on so many minds these days. He writes that he’s spent a lot of time at the Googleplex over the past year talking with Google strategists and engineers about saving newspapers.

No doubt he passed the garden where
a bronze casting of a T Rex fossil,
a gift from founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, forages among the plants. Fallows has so thoroughly bought
into the cult of Google he reports the company is devising ways to save newspapers from becoming the next dinosaur in the garden.

“Most Internet and tech businesses have been either uninterested in or actively condescending toward the struggles of what they view as the pathetic-loser dinosaurs of the traditional media,” he writes.

Which is entirely wrong.

“Everyone knows that Google is killing the news business. Few people know how hard Google is trying to bring it back to life, or why the company now considers journalism’s survival crucial to its own prospects.” Leer más “Lava lamps won’t save newspapers”