If I were still in New York City, I’d be excited to attend a debate tomorrow on the proposition that “Google violates its ‘don’t be evil’ motto.” Debaters include Jeff Jarvis, Esther Dyson and Jim Harper (against the motion), and Harry Lewis, Randall Picker, and Siva Vaidhyanathan (for the motion).
I think most would agree that Google set itself up for such criticism and debate by selecting a simultaneously provocative and nebulous motto. And I suspect any such debate isn’t about a binary “evil” or “not-evil” distinction, but more about placing the search giant on a continuum of corporate social responsibility, with “complete altruism” on one side, and “utterly evil” on the other.
Has Google done good for the world? Certainly. Can it — no, should it — do more? Absolutely.