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Blue Chipping
In 23 million years, Google will fall to the rebellion. And no, we don't mean 'Ask Jeeves'

by Julian Dibbell

June 20th, 2005 6:07 PM




Google Will Eat Itself is the sort of Web-based conceptual art project that could only have been conceived somewhere between the second and third hits off somebody's brushed-steel, Bauhaus-inspired bong. Dig: Two European net.artists set up a faux blog whose sole purpose is to collect advertising dollars through Google's revenue-sharing AdSense program. "With this money," the artists explain, "we automatically buy Google shares via our Swiss e-banking account." Holding these shares in the name of a community trust called Google to the People, our heroes gradually but inexorably turn Google's own resources against it, using their monthly AdSense revenues to wrest control from the very entity that cuts the checks. "We buy Google via their own advertisment!" the artists exult. "Google eats itself—but in the end we will own it!"
That's the idea anyway. Two months after GWEI's launch, "The People" own exactly one share of Google, purchased with a portion of the $389.72 earned from visitors' clicks on ads displayed on the site. At this rate, it will be a mere 23 million years before "the Google dictatorship," as the authors call it, falls to the rebellion. And that's assuming Google doesn't recognize GWEI for the blatant case of click fraud it is and eject it from the AdSense program altogether (as indeed the current absence of ads on the site suggest it already has). Naturally, such practicalities are beside the point—the point, apparently, having something to do with "deconstruct[ing] the new global advertisement mechanisms" and "inject[ing] a social virus . . . into their commercial body." Well, OK. God knows Google's increasingly powerful grip on the very definition of the Internet, benign though it has been so far, is due for some inspired critique. But remember, folks, the operative word there is inspired—not half, or even totally, baked.