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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 14/06/2006

 

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Has Google killed the Internet?

The California-based giant is paramount among Internet search engines. But it has been encroaching more and more on the traditional economy, from publishing to consumer satellite imagery to person-to-person communications. Once considered a guarantor of freedom of information, Google is today seen as a threat. » more

With articles from the following publications:
Alternatives économiques - France, The Economist - United Kingdom, El País - Spain, L´Hebdo - Switzerland

Alternatives économiques - France

Journalist Marc Chevalier observes that while the Internet has in effect 'reinvented commerce', its original ideology is a thing of the past. "When it appeared a decade ago, the Internet gave rise to great hopes among certain economists of neoclassical leanings that we were finally seeing the emergence of a pure and perfect competitive model, as theorised by Leon Walras in the 19th century. The Web seemed to furnish an ideal marketplace, where a multitude of sellers and a plethora of buyers could interact freely, fluidly and transparently. ... However, far from encouraging a widespread 'disintermediation' as was generally assumed, the Internet promoted the emergence of giant new intermediaries such as Google. The latter are today eating into a larger and larger share of the value generated by the old economy. Notably, the traditional mainstay industries that are at pains to adapt their economic model ..." (14/06/2006)

The Economist - United Kingdom

In a few short years, the newsweekly writes, Google has morphed from a "simple and popular company" into something "complicated and controversial". "A decade ago, Microsoft stood accused of stifling innovation, because entrepreneurs would stay away from any area of technology in which it showed any interest. Google, whose slogan is 'Don't be evil', hates this comparison and wants to think of itself as ventilating rather than stifling the ecosystem of developers and entrepreneurs. ... It appeared to be genuinely taken aback that some book publishers oppose its plan to scan their books and make them searchable. Google also seemed surprised when privacy advocates voiced concerns over its practice of placing advertisements in contextually related e-mail messages on its webmail service, and again this year when it announced a Chinese version that censors the search results." (14/06/2006)

El País - Spain

Patricia Fernandez de Lis, editor of the daily's Technology column, attempts to explain the phenomenon of consolidation in the Internet sector. "Google's avidity is pushing its rivals into one another's arms. ... Driving this ballet of courtships is the maturity of the Internet, its establishment as the world's leading communications tool, users' desire to share multimedia information, and the pressure of the financial markets. ... Google's competitors are reacting out of fear that the company that Broadchannel.com calls the world's best-known brand will spread its tentacles into every money-making area of the Internet. The companies have spotted a common enemy and are devising a common strategy: forming alliances." (14/06/2006)

L´Hebdo - Switzerland

Olivier Andrieu, the French founder of Abondance, an information search and reference website, is interviewed by correspondent David Spring. He explains why Google's decline is conceivable. "I remember that five years back Altavista's fall seemed out of the question. Yet just a few months later the company had vanished! The market has not really stabilised. Google is standing on clay feet. Of course, its founders are aware of this: that is why they are seeking to broaden their range of economic models. ... Searching is Google's fundamental mission. Yet today we find the company doing everything. ... The company's image is deteriorating. Its founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, had an ideal vision that is now coming up against reality, notably because Google has entered the stock market." (14/06/2006)

REFLECTIONS

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Les Echos - France

Europe, a secular continent

Stephan Richter, editor-in-chief of the American weekly 'The Globalist', asks "why Europe has no religion". "The lesser role of religion in European public life is a consequence of the formerly authoritative - indeed tyrannical - role that the Church played in Europe's public affairs not too long ago. Hence a certain tendency to reject authority by Europeans who believe the Church dictated for too long and too explicitly how they should live their lives. ... The growing presence of Muslims in Europe tends to encourage citizens and political leaders to minimise the role of religion in the public domain, and to insist on seeing it become more of a private matter." (14/06/2006)

POLITICS

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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Poland's relations with its eastern neighbours

The traditionally sceptical Polish are taking an increasingly positive view of their eastern neighbours. According to a survey published by the CBOS Institute, 69 percent of Poles believe that friendly and cooperative relations with Russia are possible, but at the same time, 59 percent fear Russia. 77 percent believe reconciliation between Poles and Ukrainians is possible – that figure was just 60 percent two years ago. Sociologist Jacek Kucharczyk from the Institute for Public Relations assesses the results of the survey as follows: "The Poles don't like Putin's Russia, but they believe in maintaining good relations with Russia in case that Russia changes in the future. It was the same with Ukraine: the Orange Revolution has changed many things there. We no longer lump all our eastern neighbours together as 'Russians'." (14/06/2006)

Le Vif / L'Express - Belgium

European borders under pressure

"Over the next few weeks, a European fleet of warships, planes and helicopters will be patrolling the international waters off the coasts of Senegal, Mauritania and Cape Verde," Jean-Michel Demetz reports in the weekly. The move comes as Europeans attempt to intercept boatloads of illegal immigrants trying to reach the Canary Islands. "After Malta, the Canaries have now become one of the smugglers' objectives. And the weak link in Europe's border. ... Beyond a common border-control policy, demographic decline means that Europe has to make a concerted effort to re-examine its immigration policy as a whole. ... Keeping Europe's frontiers protected is a necessary condition for the Union's security. But it is not enough." (14/06/2006)

To Vima Online - Greece

Greek students and the defense of public university

The Greek education minister, Marietta Gianakou, ended up having to abandon her university reforms. "The introduction of the draft bill on university establishments has been put off indefinitely! Panic-stricken by the street protests by Greek students in Athens and other big cities across the country that bore some resemblance to the French students' demonstrations against the CPE [First Employment Contract], the education minister yielded." Greece has just seen its biggest student movement since the 1970's. "From the moment it was unveiled, the draft bill allowing for the development of private universities in Greece provoked a veritable outcry among students and professors. The story is not yet closed. It will resume at the end of October, after the regional elections."  (14/06/2006)

Hospodárske noviny - Slovakia

Coalition talks in the Czech Republic

The three non-socialist Czech parties – the Conservatives, the Christian Democrats and the Greens – have agreed to draw up a coalition agreement. Even the distribution of seats in the Cabinet under Conservative Mirek Topolonek has been decided. Tomas Nemecek fears that the three parties will be unable to govern. "Everyone knows that this government cannot survive without the support of the Social Democrats, and they're not budging.” (14/06/2006)

SPORT

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Magyar Hírlap - Hungary

Turkish youths in Berlin support the German team

Berlin correspondent Gergeley Bartfai reports on an unexpected phenomenon in connection with the World Cup: young people whose parents come from Turkey have become fans of the German team. "It was a shock for them that Turkey didn't qualify for the World Cup, but they soon found another team to support. Chaban Salih of the Islamic Community of German-speaking Muslims admits the euphoria among Muslim youths after the German team won its first game took him by surprise. 'Even those who have nothing positive to say about Germany were happy' he says. Turkish and Arab Germany supporters really attract attention on the streets. They wave the German flag enthusiastically and chant 'Germany, Germany'.” (14/06/2006)

Die Welt - Germany

Poland's historical inability to play football

Polish author Wojciech Kuczok is not looking forward to the qualifying game between Germany and Poland. "It's a sad thing to be a Pole during the World Cup. It's a nightmare to have to come to terms with the fact that we're the worst football players in the world… Perhaps Poland can't play football because it doesn't see it as a game? How can you go on the attack when the attack could fail and end up looking like a parody of a Polish cavalry attack? How can you risk taking a shot at a goal when, if it fails, it could undermine the memory of the Polish pilots' efforts in the Royal Air Force? The Germans are hardly masters of self-irony either. But instead of stumbling around the pitch with their heads obscured in the clouds of historical liabilities, they score magnificent goals.” (14/06/2006)

MEDIA

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La Repubblica - Italy

The end of Jean-Paul Sartre's 'Liberation'

Bernardo Valli, the Roman daily's Paris correspondent, writes about Serge July's likely departure from the French daily 'Liberation' in the face of pressure from its main shareholder, Edouard de Rothschild. "Serge July, the director and co-founder of the daily along with other Maoists under the sponsorship of Jean-Paul Sartre, has long since shed his ideological allegiance to the May of 40 years ago. But he remains an example for that generation. The survival of 'Libé', born Maoist, now depends on the good will of a member of one of the most famous banking dynasties in the history of world capitalism. ... July's 'Libé' has followed a classic leftist curve. Which means it has gone from radical extremism to a moderate, at times accommodating, realism, avoiding the deviation that saw some in Italy swinging from Lotta Continua to Berlusconism."  (14/06/2006)

ECONOMY

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Hufvudstadsbladet - Finland

The Estonians' success in the ferry business

Just ten years after its founding, Estonian ferry operator Tallink has taken over the long-established Finnish operator Silja Line ("Finnjet"). The 450 million euros Tallink paid for the Finnish operator represent Estonia's largest foreign investment to date. "Tallink will be market leader in the Finnish ferry business and is also a strong player on the routes between Estonia, Latvia and Sweden. This is the first time that an Estonian company has become an international giant, if not at a global level, then at least in the Baltic region. The Silja deal is unique in Estonia's recent economic history. Following the collapse of socialism 15 years ago, many Estonian companies – from banks to the food industry – were either closed down or bought up by foreign investors. With Tallink things are different. In the eyes of Estonians Tallink is a national star that shines ever brighter.” (14/06/2006)

CULTURE

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Népszabadság - Hungary

The Hungarians' ignorance of Györgi Ligeti

Music critic Miklos Fay complains that György Ligeti, who died last week and was perhaps Hungary's most renowned contemporary composer, is hardly known in his home country of Hungary. "It's shocking. Only a few of us mourn his passing because they know all his works and are sad that there will be no more of them…There will also be no more concerts for politeness' sake where foreign orchestras play 'Lontano' as a bold act representing the triumph of modern music to a yawning Hungarian audience. Ligeti should be played when only when the music is used to convey a message to an interested audience. We are now posterity. It's up to us whether the world keeps on spinning without Ligeti, but with his music.” (13/06/2006)

LOCAL COLOURS

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The Guardian - United Kingdom

Jews mark 350th anniversary of 'readmission' to England

Writing on the 350th anniversary the readmission of Jews to England in 1656, David Cesarini of the University of London describes the Jewish experience as one of struggle and negotiation. "Liberal England accepted Jews, but only on its own terms. Jews adapted to a peculiar form of liberal intolerance that is being echoed today. They could worship freely, but they reformed and reconfigured the liturgy to make it harmonise with Christian rites. ... England in effect accepted religious pluralism in a way that distinguished it from other countries and allowed Jews to feel more comfortable and patriotic than in other places. English tolerance had its limits and Jews paid a heavy price for acceptance. But to neglect the positive side of this historic saga is to caricature British history, malign English liberalism, and provoke a bitter, defensive response." (14/06/2006)

Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Barbaric hunting in Norway

The Norwegians feel they are being unfairly criticised by other countries for their seal hunting. Scandinavian correspondent Reinhard Wolff says the debate is "marked by peculiar double standards,” because it's always the others who are the barbarians – and that doesn't just go for Norway. "In England, too, there's a public outcry every time someone tries to ban their foxhunting, and the Finns are not at all happy with the EU since Brussels banned their wolf-shooting. The moose-hunting Swedes regard the seal-hunting Norwegians with unbridled contempt, and vice versa… But until societies themselves start to question the continued existence of what they consider to be 'timeless and indispensable traditions', criticism from others won't make the slightest impact.” (14/06/2006)

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