May 14, 2014

Google should change its unofficial motto

There's a sketch from the Tim and Eric show advertising a fake game called Not Jackie Chan. Part of the humor of the clip comes from the fact that by telling someone to list ten things that aren't Jackie Chan, you can't help but to remind them of Jackie Chan, and so they'll end up mentioning the actor. Indeed, often when you tell someone to not do something, you end up having the opposite effect: people end up ignoring the "not" and act as if the command or suggestion you just gave them was a positive one instead of a negative one. Telling a kid to not touch a toy is probably the quickest way to get her to actually touch it. It's for this reason that Google should change its unofficial of "don't be evil."

Google shouldn't only change its motto because telling itself and its employees to not be evil can often end up having the opposite of the intended effect, but also because its unofficial motto doesn't compel it to positive action. It's really not the hardest moral imperative to decide to not be evil. It is, in fact, what is the bare minimum expected of people in good society. A motto should convey some kind of positive attitude or action that a company should follow, and "don't be evil" certainly isn't that.

It's not even really that hard to think of a good alternative. Instead of "don't be evil," Google should reframe its unofficial motto as "do good." That's really all there is to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment