Virgin Mary appears in Google's Iowa data center

Blessed be thy server


Who needs religion in middle America when you have Google?

Google executive Ken Patchett recently visited Council Bluffs, Iowa and received a hero's welcome. Patchett leads Google's effort to build a $600m data center in corn country, and the locals couldn't be happier to have him around - at least according to propaganda purveyor The Des Moines Register. The paper has presented Patchett and Google as the bringers of all things wonderful - entities capable of curing ills and feeding the poor.

These days Google and Microsoft march into small, depressed towns with similar stories. "Give us a few tax breaks, and we'll build a $600m data center in your backyard. You'll be seen as a technology leader, and we'll bring in a ton of jobs."

In actual fact, however, these mega data centers used to fuel both companies' internet ambitions provide very few jobs over the long haul. It takes hundreds of construction crews, contractors and suppliers to set up a mega data center but only about three dozen people to run the center post-construction.

But who wants to focus on the long-term reality of an advertising entity setting up shop, when you can anoint a near-term hero?

Iowa, for example, expects Google to bless it in the same way that the company touched The Dalles - a city in Oregon where Google set up another mega data center.

As The Des Moines Register tells it,

Patchett said the company has erred in being too hush-hush in the communities in which it has grown. For example, Google dramatically changed The Dalles, a somewhat rural community, but it didn't let the community in enough on its plans, he said.

To address that, the company recently launched outreach efforts in earnest. Google has been lending technical expertise to emergency responders in The Dalles to improve the area's 911 service, and helping clean up a nearby lake, volunteering at the library and giving to the local animal shelter.

Now in Iowa Google is being celebrated for sending job ads to a community college. "Google's hiring. Come on home."

In addition, Google looks to plant executives with the Chamber of Commerce and will aid non-profits via free online advertising.

We'd bring you more examples of Google's coming generosity if only the reporter had bothered to dig up anything else substantial. Instead, she dwelled on the standard Google hagiography tripe, boasting of Nerf gun fights, decent lunches and "casual Fridays all week".

Should a town really base its hopes and dreams on three dozen workers getting to wear jeans to work? Oh, why not.

"Google's a part of Iowa. Google's a part of Council Bluffs," Patchett told the paper.

You know, the text ads part of Iowa.

Apparently, the locals are so enamored by the ad broker that they've already started advertising for Google.

During a Chamber of Commerce meeting, Iowa residents plastered themselves with Google T-shirts. The Chamber president even went so far as to wear a Google shirt under his suit jacket, keeping the colored balls icon close to his heart.

Don't get us wrong. Jobs are wonderful things. And, as Patchett was quick to point out, Google delivers serious financial muscle when it's a'buildin. In The Dalles, one construction company alone ordered up $500,000 in lunches. Given the right menu, that's a lot of corn.

What proves less comforting is the desire by local press - and this plays out time and again - to fool readers into thinking Google will create jobs in a meaningful way for years to come. Sadly, only a handful of those community college workers will end up with jobs plugging in server racks.

There's an inclination to glorify Google at all costs - as we've pointed out many times. It's a bizarre urge given that Google's main goal in the near-term fails to go much beyond putting text ads in your face in any way possible.

In the years to come, Google has far greater ambitions. It would like to become a fully-integrated part of your brain - a subject best explored, in our view, in business writer Nick Carr's new book The Big Switch.

To pull off such a bold job, you have to start somewhere.

And it would seem that Google, like so many politicians before it, has eyed Iowa as a nice place to initiate the mind-meld.

Anyone have a "Google Iowa" t-shirt for us? ®


Other stories you might like

  • DigitalOcean tries to take sting out of price hike with $4 VM
    Cloud biz says it is reacting to customer mix largely shifting from lone devs to SMEs

    DigitalOcean attempted to lessen the sting of higher prices this week by announcing a cut-rate instance aimed at developers and hobbyists.

    The $4-a-month droplet — what the infrastructure-as-a-service outfit calls its virtual machines — pairs a single virtual CPU with 512 MB of memory, 10 GB of SSD storage, and 500 GB a month in network bandwidth.

    The launch comes as DigitalOcean plans a sweeping price hike across much of its product portfolio, effective July 1. On the low-end, most instances will see pricing increase between $1 and $16 a month, but on the high-end, some products will see increases of as much as $120 in the case of DigitalOceans’ top-tier storage-optimized virtual machines.

    Continue reading
  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022