Gongol.com Archives: December 2011
Brian Gongol

December 6, 2011

Business and Finance Google needs to prepare itself for a future as a regulated public utility
As the dominant provider of Internet search service -- and dominant by a very, very large margin -- Google has made itself, at least for now, nearly indispensable to the operation of the Internet. That's not a position they're guaranteed to maintain forever -- in fact, the smart money is on nimble competitors chipping away at Google's dominance by the end of the decade. But for the time being, Google's dominance is the reality. And as a near-monopolist over a critical portion of the function of the Internet (which itself has become utterly irreplaceable and totally essential to the function of a huge amount of commerce worldwide), Google has inadvertently invited the kind of regulatory scrutiny usually applied to firms that have natural monopoly power -- companies like electrical utilities, for instance. Similar to those companies, Google is in a position characterized by a high fixed cost of operation (most of us can't afford to build our own data centers or create our own operating systems) creating very high barriers to entry. So as things happen, like this year's update to Google's ranking algorithm, we should not be the least bit surprised if governments start trying to regulate Google's behavior just as though it were the AT&T of years past.

Business and Finance Does S&P really have any credibility left?
The credit-ratings agency is threatening to downgrade its debt ratings for Europe as a whole and many of the countries in it. But isn't that a day late and a dollar short? If S&P had been doing its job all along to analyze risk and judge countries' ability to repay their debts, wouldn't it have concluded a decade ago that Europe was headed for trouble? The conditions that have led to Europe's present situation didn't exactly develop overnight.

News Evidence surfaces that the Russian election was rigged
Interestingly, protesters are taking their chances and making noise anyway. While the received wisdome has been that Vladimir Putin will get to cruise back into the presidency, perhaps it's time to consider some alternative scenarios.

Science and Technology Engineering marvel: A huge offshore wind farm
The pictures alone are dramatic. On a related note, a California project could hold some promise for producing real and sustainable solar energy.

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