Google has come under increasing fire for a lack of transparency in how it does everything — from keeping porn off YouTube to calculating advertising rates to determining which search results go where. I may personally distrust the wise benevolence of markets, but information asymmetry is a time-tested business tactic. In an article comparing the applied economics of Microsoft in the PC era and Google in the Internet era, the New York Times gets more of the same blather from the Googleplex regarding the enigma wrapped inside a puzzle wrapped inside the algorithm from Hal Varian, Google's in-house rent-a-quote economics guru:
Mr. Varian, Google’s chief economist, acknowledges that the company has been criticized for its lack of transparency. But he says that the Google approach is a byproduct of its virtue as a fast-moving learning machine. “The system is constantly evolving to optimize efficiency, improve ad quality and make the pricing smarter, so you don’t want set rules that say we do X and we don’t do Y,” [Google chief economist Hal] Varian explained.
Actually, if I'm not mistaken, the company did say they won't do evil, and "trust us" has been the talking point every since. Frankly, I kinda preferred Microsoft's "cross us and we'll crush you." Now that's transparency. Anderson Mancini