I really wonder if we shouldn't do something that looks more organized than blogging. As a blogger, I hate to say this, but blogging doesn't really impress corporate types, unless it ends up kicked up to the NYTimes. If we end up with a stunt that gets in the MSM, we'll get their attention.
If we raised enough money, MoveOn style, to buy a full page ad in the Times, that would seriously get their attention, for example, and would get us in every major media outlet in the world. We could do that through EFF or some similar organization, if we thought we could do it.
We could go to kindred organizations including organizations like HRC and organizations that work with victims of abuse, perhaps groups that deal with dissidents, Reporters without Borders (RSF.org), HRW, groups that work with childrens safety issues online who want parents to understand how the parents' online hygiene can impact children and sets a good example -- it's such an amazing teachable moment, we might be able to get a huge coalition of allies to share in from all over the world.
This is a move that has a high risk/benefit, and we need to consider the risk/benefit also to Google. I think a lot of us actually feel a certain fondness for Google. I don't want to hurt the company. I want them to do the right thing. I want them to do it in a way that alienates the least part of their market that doesn't have their head up their butts -- and to my mind that's the digital natives and the more sober and thoughtful folks here who think like me. ;)
So, one thing we might want to consider is, gasp, forming a committee or some coalition or some sort of representative body to address Google and say, listen, we feel strongly. We have been the strongest voices of this community, maybe people like some of us here (and Kee maybe, he's in Thailand, the bastard...:) and we want to sit down with you at a table (virtual or otherwise) and if you like under NDA talk about this.
Because we will take action, but we don't want to burn you or our friends who work for Google, or our friends for that matter who own bits of your company. And some of us cringe at some of the other companies out there a bit more than we do at this. We want you to do the right thing. How can we be your loyal opposition?
And you know, you always keep the option of being something of a bastard in reserve, right? But it's always better to cooperate so much as you can.
At MIT's Educational Studies Program, I teach a class for high school kids called "How to Save the World in Your Spare Time," which is about nonviolent social action organizing. Basically people have forgotten what nonviolent social change is about since the 60s.
Nonviolence is not about "not hitting" -- nonviolence is a form of asymmetrical strategic warfare that favors the weaker party, and is aimed to the reconciliation of the whole community into a healthy society as soon as possible upon the resolution of the conflict.
The principles of nonviolent social change, paraphrased from the King Center are:
1) Research your topic thoroughly. Know all the facts
2) Educate yourself and others; be open to modifying your own position
3) Keep your resolve, support one another; do not fragment
4) Negotiate in good faith; compromise with integrity
5) Be prepared to take nonviolent direct action
6) Reconcile all parties into a cooperative single community
What I tell my kids is, these steps represent a sort of dynamic system, each one a little feedback loop that links to the others. That step #5 needs to be planned and well organized, but sometimes doesn't even have to be triggered, as in the case of a threatened strike, say. It must always be a credible, prepared, nearly manifest thing. But often it's the thing that happens if negotiations don't succeed; if you can't show that you are serious; if you can't talk sense or show that the cost of compromise is lower than the cost of dealing with direct action.
The cost of dealing with blogs may seem minimal, even if we can see that it could mean a loss of market. It may well be easy for them to discount "just bloggers." So we have to think: If they misestimate our power, are we willing to kill this project because they don't understand our reach?
Or should we organize in a way that a more traditional corporate structure can meet halfway and understand, and perhaps save them from themselves? :)
My estimate of the situation is this: Either they really don't understand the pile of crap they are in, and so blogging won't get their attention any more than the last two week have; or there's something truly warped and baroque going on within Google (I hope not) and we are on the side of the angels (I hope so) and folks inside may need our help.
Billions of dollars a year at stake. That's not an amount of power that would lead to crossed agendas or power politics? Nah. I mean, you know, Google's what, a company about the size of Chile, by revenue? Yeah, no politics. Just a few confused executives that don't understand geek culture. Yup. We couldn't possibly be missing any information. Like PTSD and infighting left over from Orkut or something. Who knows?
Either way, IMO we should be organizing more than words at this point.