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IT Confidential: Scorecard Needed To Tell Rights From Wrongs

Determining right from wrong is easy, right? Wrong! There are more permutations of that relationship than patches on a Windows server.
Determining right from wrong is easy, right? Wrong! There are more permutations of that relationship than patches on a Windows server. One permutation goes like this: You can do the right thing for the wrong reason, or the wrong thing for the right reason. And that's not even counting good or bad. It's a riddle wrapped in an enigma, deep-fried in self-interest, and served on a bed of rationalization. Let's see how this might apply to the technology industry.

> > Google decides to launch its search engine in China while adhering to the Chinese government's censorship policies. Conventional wisdom goes like this: Google is a public company that needs to generate revenue; China's 1.3 billion people represent a consumer market too lucrative to pass up--Google's competitors aren't. Therefore, Google's decision is the right thing to do, but for the wrong reason. Right? Wrong! The more information people have access to, the freer they are; Google can serve both masters, commerce and the greater good. Therefore: Wrong thing to do, right reason.

> > Microsoft offers to license the source code to Windows Server. Microsoft is trying to stymie a European Union monopoly investigation with this bit of bait and switch; meanwhile, the software community has been clamoring for intimate details of Windows' inner workings for a long time. So, Microsoft's decision is the wrong thing to do but for the right reason, right? Wrong! Microsoft knew--or should have known--that the EU wouldn't take the bait, but Microsoft wanted to get the software community on its side and perhaps blunt some open-source criticism in the bargain. Therefore: Right thing to do, wrong reason.

> > Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo sues the makers of violent video game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" for surreptitiously incorporating graphic sex scenes that are accessible with a simple code routine. Delgadillo also is running for California attorney general. Right thing to do, wrong reason, right? Wrong! The publicity will not only help Delgadillo's career-advancement plans, it will keep "Grand Theft" on store shelves for months, maybe years, instead of allowing it the marketplace mercy killing it should have experienced many moons ago. Therefore: Wrong thing to do, right reason.

Hey, this is fun. What other industry developments can we blow holes in with our 12-gauge-logic shotgun? I hate to pick on Google, but it's "Do No Evil" corporate mantra makes it something of an ethical sitting duck.

> > Google refuses to turn over search data to the Justice Department, which wants to revive a child-protection censorship bill by gauging how easy it is to get at pornography on the Internet through search engines--and maybe take a little look-see at what consumers peruse online. Therefore, Google's decision is the right thing to do, but for the wrong reason, right? Wrong! Until now, the general public had no idea how much data Google accumulates about their searches; to cough it up on the first hard poke would be to risk a tidal wave of criticism. Google's decision is smart politics, grass-roots style: Wrong thing, right reason.

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. Just kidding! Send an industry tip--it's the right thing to do--to [email protected], or phone 516-562-5326.

"The News Show" knows right from wrong, it's just not telling. Watch "The News Show" at noon ET every weekday, at TheNewsShow.tv or on InformationWeek.com.


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