Quoting from a Reuters article by Eric Auchard about Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, on “good, evil and monopoly fears“:
When he first joined Google as CEO seven years ago, Schmidt acknowledged thinking the “Don’t be evil” phrase was a “joke” being played on him by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Schmidt recalled sitting in Google’s offices later in 2001 when an engineer interrupted a strategy discussion over a planned advertising product by saying, “That is evil.”
“It is like a bomb goes off in the room. Everything stopped. Everyone had a moral and ethical conversation, which by the way, stopped the product,” Schmidt said.
“So it is a cultural rule, a way of forcing a conversation, especially in areas which are ambiguous,” he said of how the mission statement works in practice at Google.
The desire to ritualize such a practice of communication illustrates the ethic of “start[ing] from the perspective of what [big, world-class] problems do we have”? This is an example of the political divide characterized by David Brooks a few days ago as “a little culture war” between “”the highly educated coastal rich …. [and] … the inland corporate rich.” It would be nice, somehow, to get away from a blanket condemnation of whomever can be construed as part of the latter group (Brooks doesn’t do such a bad job of representing them – even if he does deploy inflammatory rhetoric at times), because we need them, too, to be part of the solutions we quite urgently need to be putting into place and action.