Posted on January 18, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |
I’ve never been a huge fan of Google. Beyond the fact that there’s something about Larry Page’s face that just disgusts me, I’ve never bought into the “do no evil” bullshit. The and I’ve always found the founders’ philanthropic interests quite humorous given that they had the company purchase a 747 “party plane.”
So the company’s announcement that Google.org, its philanthropic arm, plans to launch InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disaster) to “save lives in the event of natural disasters or public health threats” didn’t pique my interest. Until I read how it plans to do it: using Twitter and Facebook.
Yes, the survival of the human race could now apparently depend on and on Facebook . How? You can read all about it here but in short: InSTEDD “is a nonprofit organization that ambitiously aims to help communities around the world use Web and communications technology to identify and warn others of outbreaks like Avian flu or disasters like Hurricane Katrina. That technology, which will include social software Twitter and Facebook, will be used to coordinate rescue responses and help save lives.”
Note to Dr. Larry Brilliant, the “visionary” behind this concept: people knew Hurricane Katrina was coming. Some, however, didn’t have Google stock options and were so poor that they didn’t have anywhere to go. And the remote villagers in Vietnam who are infected by Avian flu probably aren’t Tweeting the news about their worsening cough.
Obviously, I’m being a little bit sarcastic. But while communication is always a barrier to dealing effectively with disease and disaster, the real problem is not the fact that people have no means to communicate effectively when disease and disaster strike: it’s that the resources available to deal with the problems are minimal and/or people and organizations aren’t prepared.
In my opinion, this “save the world” project is a lame attempt by Google to apply “hot” technologies to problems that are really the cousins of larger, more-pressing problems. If Google really wants to “save the world,” InSTEDD of wasting money on bullshit, Google should focus on using its money to solve substantive problems using the best means possible, even if those means aren’t technology-based.