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Google & Organic Food

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A few months ago we had an opportunity to join a group that organized purchases and delivery of organic food products. These kind of groups are currently typical in Israel where organic foods are still drastically more expensive then their counter-non-organic products. These groups make organic products more affordable by dealing directly with the farmers and establishing a self-operated distribution center. This means that all members shoulder part of the responsibility of keeping the mechanism operating.

This  included a minor shift in consumption habits. The distribution center is open once or twice a week for a few hours and you have to place your order a few days in advance.  This is why we didn’t join. We did not want to trade our buy-as-needed consumer habits for a planned purchase. We discussed this for some time and realized that we prefer the freedom to choose when and what we buy over the benefits of cheaper organic products. The result is that we conume organic grains but non-organical fruits and vegetables.

Rationality & Economy

WARNING: The following paragraphs describe a system of FAITH and not a scientific truth. If you feel like arguing then please either make an effort to relax your mind (tip: think of me a silly person and humor yourself by reading on) or stop reading and go   somewhere else.

I believe rational thinking is just one of many tools at my disposal in life. For many years I was addicted to it and lived by it alone. Over recent years I have become acquainted with other tools which I believe give me a better overall experience in life. These tools are often referred to by names such as intuition, spirituality, creativity, etc.

(COMMENT: To me these are very personal words – their meaning to me is based on an accumulation of personal experience. The only way I know for me to share them with you would be for us to spend time together – to accumulate shared experience. Until we do I ask, as you read on, that you use them with care, attention and an open mind, there is a very good chance that your interpretation differs greatly from mine.)

Economy is one example of a system of rational thought. The past decade, and recent months have demonstrated that the system is faulty. It has to some degree collapsed and caused widespread ripple effects. Many of its greatest followers are now talking about an expected radical change in it’s core concepts and mechanisms.

I agree change is coming but I disagree with most of the economic-worshiping prophets (some of whom I respect as business thought leaders) – because their prophecies are mostly limited to the trappings of rational thought. Everything needs to be picked at until it is completely broken down into little understandable pieces which give a sense of (economic) predictability control (which seems to narrow down to making more money!).

Now we come to a major faith junction:  control (and any of its artifact predictions) is a misapprehension. Occasionally rationality works – this is a chance occurrence. Most of the time it is wrong. The fact that is it wrong is well hidden by it’s inherit mandate to keep digging … until a chance occurrence occurs – and rationality is hailed. Most of the time rationality is just plain wrong.

Intuition & Ecology

Every morning I look out on another system altogether – an ecological system. It is tempting to call this system “nature” – but that is another rational misapprehension. Rationality (and for that matter misapprehension) are also natural. This system has other qualities – intuition, creativity and spirituality, etc… are words that dance around it and shed some inspirational light on it.

From where I am sitting it looks like ecology is a system of doing (as in actual action!) what’s best, while economy is a system of doing what is thought to be best. To me, the ecological odds seem much better then the economic odds.

I tend to think of ecological systems as systems in which:

  1. Acting entities are striving for constant improvement – for quality.
  2. Action is an expression of these good (as in high quality) intentions.
  3. Consequences ripple out extensively and reach deep into the system.
  4. Ripples inform acting entities.

Google

Google is an aggregation of many systems. When it was very young it was dominated by ecological patterns – it is indeed a product of creativity. As it grew it incorporated (!) additional systems – many of them rational and economical. Today it is dominated by the latter. It now wears ecology as a fashionable badge in servitude of it’s economical systems, and it’s best chance of finding an innovation is looking elsewhere.

Rationally & Economically – every time I consume (utilize) a Google service – I am calling on a huge collection of resources (if anyone actually put together a list – it would be staggering). Some have already been allocated & invested regardless of my request, others are allocated and spent exclusively for me. Google expends these resources on my behalf and pays for them. Since I do not directly pay Google anything, and since Google is a dominated by economic forces, it is driven to balance this equation in other ways.

Ecologically I am striving for quality, so I care how Google does this. Economically & ecologically I don’t care for the way it does. There are no free lunches.

Consuming Google

In the case of organic vegetables I made a choice – spontaneity over organics. In the case of Google I made another choice – ecology over economy. My choices in regard to Google make economical sense to me and feel ecological good.

I consume as little of Google as possible. Most of my Google consumption is made up of searching the web. I have a google user account which I use rarely use for basic SEO related issues (I once paid Google with an open heart – I don’t expect that will ever happen again). I don’t use Gmail and I stay logged out of Google 99.9999% of the time – so that they cannot associate my activities with my registered profile.

There is nothing wrong with Google – this is the way things are. Google is a case in point. Ecology has an upper hand on economy – quality endures and accommodates rational misapprehension. Economy as we know it (and systems subscribed to it) will one day (maybe soon?) be gone, ecology is here to stay. Ecology is about what is good, not about what looks good.

I wonder: did you choose how you use Google or did someone choose for you?

This entry was posted in AltEco, Business, Coming Through, Expanding, Featured, inside, outside. You are welcome to read 6 comments and to add yours

4 Comments

  1. kosha
    Posted April 13, 2009 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    This is a nice post, thank you for explaining yourself so elaborately.
    Two main points that I picked up from your post:
    1. Google makes you change your consumer habits and preallocates resources for you – I must disagree on that. An idle computer sitting on desktop is a preallocated resource you are bound to. Resources provided to you by google are on a shared infrastructure, which overall provides a much better resources to consumption ratio. And also, available anywhere you are, hence I can’t see how you consumer habits are limited by it, comparing to old fashioned email clients.

    2. Googles provides a free services, there will be a payoff – I agree with you on this one to some extent. Some of the payoff we already see, in the form of adwords. Some of it we don’t. But something you did not tackle in this post is the alternatives, google is providing a great service for free, while the competition provides less of a service for huge fee, and they don’t play fair either (microsoft, OS incorporating tactics, giving outlook for free and pushing exchange to the corporation and so on…).
    So yes, Google is a giant and it might fire back one day, but as an individual, I must ride on giants backs or live a very unproductive life (government, Local councils, fuel companies, google and so on).
    Until recently, the computer industry was firmly controled by a single giant. Now we have a choice. I choose to use google, and I hope that I’ll manage to jump on to the next giant on time.

  2. Posted April 13, 2009 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    1) There are some generous print-shops that offer fringe-artists very cheap prints to advertise performances and such. They do this when the print process is based on plates and there is an empty space on the plate. The cost of running it through the machine is the same whether the empty space is occupied or not. So they offer it cheap to the artist who enjoys affordable advertising and they make a small marginal profit. Two points: (1) The majority of the plate is paid for – it does not idle nor is used freely; (2) The artist is provided with a CHEAP NOT FREE service. No one is paying for the majority of Google resources.

    2) I have been weening myself off Microsoft (using OpenOffice, Mozilla Thunderbird, Firefox, playing with Ubuntu. I pay for my webhosting services (and use it to host others – who pay a symbolic price to help pay for it), for my computer and the electricity it uses. If you are willing to compromise then there are numerous alternate (free & paid) solutions for any mainstream application.

    3) You are responding primarily from a “reasoning” mind-set that is locking you into familiar concepts. In my ecological eyes the bigger payoff to Google is not by those who pay for Adwords – but by people who’s attention is polluted by (largely useless and irrelevant) information injected through the Adwords systems. So actually you already are paying for your free gmail account. The problem is you don’t know how to quantify/valuate the pollution they generate for you – that is in the realm of ecology not economy.

    I find it ironical that the core of Google is about getting you quality search results, but they don’t hesitate to deliver poor quality information to do it.

  3. kosha
    Posted April 13, 2009 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    1. Ads pay for most of google resources. And those ads are less intrusive than the old media advertising, so in a way it’s a step forward.
    2. Just a point on this one: some of the products you mentioned are backed to some extent by companies (e.g. google ) to tackle other companies (e.g. microsoft). And some of those products, and I’m saying it as a big open source fan, just don’t work as well (OpenOffice). Many of the open source developers of the major projects are getting paid by someone for some reason.
    3. I’m aware of it and as long as thats the pay, I’m staying on board. I also have a number of commercial gmail accounts which are paid for and ads free.

  4. Posted April 13, 2009 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    1. Can’t relate I have learned to be doubtful and careful of facts – they have a nagging tendency to turn out wrong given time and context. It was indeed a step forward when it began, now it’s no longer that.
    2. I don’t drive a Jaguar because I can’t afford one. Indeed open-source (eg. OpenOffice) requires compromise. I do. It’s great someone has a reason to pay open-source – I think!
    3. Like I said ecology & faith are a junction you can’t reason your way through. You have to choose to try and walk through and see what happens. It’s what you are not and cannot be “aware of” that will get you – but that’s a whole new story : ) Enjoy the ride!

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