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Google India is offering students a prize for convincing their respective schools to adopt Google Apps by December 15th. What's the prize? It's certainly not a cash grant, or expensive hardware. Nope, it's naught but illiquid honor.

The ‘Prizes’ are a Certificate of Implementation and publication of the team name in the Google website. The team that has ensured the highest level of Google Apps at their college will be featured in a case study as well as a video testimonial on the YouTube channel. Wait, there is more for the best team. They will also get a ‘letter of recommendation from FMS and Google’ and an all expenses paid trip to one of the Google Offices in India.

The condescension in offering the marketing geniuses of the developing world nothing but recognition is fierce, especially when even a relative pittance of currency would do wonders. "In theory, if you get Delhi University to go Google Apps, you will get a 1 hour cab ride to the Google offices in Gurgaon," Techgirl's article continues. I'd certainly prefer a nominal sum rather than worthless plaudits and a cab fare to some publicity event. But maybe I misunderstand Cory Doctorow's whole concept of "whuffie" — a measure of reputation in one of the novelist's science-fictional near-future societies — as predicated on our basic biological and material needs being met. It's one thing to offer a paying job and equity to excellent students — it's entirely another to run a promotion in the vain hope that potential customers will convince peers to switch to Google's architecture in exchange for a few neocolonial pats on the head.