Google CEO Eric Schmidt took to NPR-stalwart Diane Rehm‘s show this morning, stumping for his new book and providing some insight into the world’s most dominant gateway to the online world.
Amusingly referencing the “little start up” that started out with “Don’t Be Evil” as its mantra, the contrary mixed with the creativity and innovation that the company now trades upon is evident from the outset.
For all the transformative technology solutions that Google has brought to the table over its short existence, some of the values that it espouses so strongly to others seem to fall short when applied to how the company itself treats other disciplines.
For his part, Mr. Schmidt is a well-spoken and razor sharp individual. Weighing in on everything from privacy to politics, he’s a man who inevitably balances the rampant imagination required by his company, with the cool pragmatism that he requires of its founders in order to navigate real-world issues in Washington and around the world.
It’s a duality that fares less well when extended to the world of entertainment and its creative industries.
Where he calls for an investment in allowing employees to pursue their creative dreams – or what the company calls “moon shots” – for example, it’s clear that he understands that his support is crucial to enable the innovation that drives Google. This stalls, however, when we think about how the company treats artists striving to create new, exciting works. Rather than contribute to an ecosystem where creative works can not only be discovered by searchers, but also direct them to legal ways to support them financially, Google’s tacit promotion of torrent options via Autocomplete, its failure to act on complex YouTube piracy or its ineffective handling of DMCA notices
When Schmidt proclaims that passion for one’s creative pursuits trumps everything else, and that work-life balance falls by the wayside when work becomes a calling, not just a job, he seems oblivious to the fact that this description of Googlers also fits like a glove for the artistic community.
Creators often forsake all else in their lives in order to realize their vision, so it’s all the more galling to hear a company that so often works against that process for artists celebrating the same quality in its own employees.
One of the more amusing sections of the interview came when Diane mentions that they’re using Skype to connect with one another for this interview. As they come back from a break, the host clearly corrects herself and admits that it’s actually Google’s own Hangouts software that they’re using.
A timely reality check for Google’s top man: when you fail to get credit for your own creation, it hurts. Multiply that by many years of search-engine enabled piracy denying that right (and compensation), and it’s easy to see what this grates creators, right Eric?