By Dovid Efune
After filing to go public on the 1st of this month, Facebook’s highly anticipated offering is expected to be the largest in history, as the company is valued at up to $100 billion. The largest tech IPO since Google, market and technology focused outlets have been buzzing with comparisons between the two goliaths of the web and their ever heated competitiveness. But how do they match up when it comes to Jewish sensitivities?
Writing for CNN Money, Miguel Helft and Jessi Hempel wrote about Facebook and Google that, “In the long history of tech rivalries, rarely has there been a battle as competitive as the raging war between the web’s wonder twins.”
Their opposition to each other is played out in the public’s day to day online decision making. Many web users have at some point considered if enough of their friends are on Google+ to justify managing a second social media account, or, now that Facebook has an email function, should they shut down their gmail account and exclusively communicate though Facebook?
Keeping a close eye on the web traffic statistics of our site algemeiner.com, Google slightly leads Facebook, as our greatest traffic source, but both significantly dwarf all other sources. To a large degree our web strategy is built around our awareness that most internet users begin their daily information consumption routines at one of these two portals.
Helft and Hempel claim that the result of the struggle between the companies will ascertain our future direction online, writing, “these companies are fighting to see which of them will determine the future of the web – and the outcome will affect the way we get information, communicate, and buy and sell.” It is more likely however, that the reverse is true. It is the evolution of our habits that will give either company the edge over the other, as Facebook and Google respectively represent opposing modes of intellectual modus operandi. The future will be determined by the consumer, not the techies.
In Google’s web, the journey of discovery begins around a question, an idea, a thought or a project. A favorite of the intellectually curious, Google’s home page is completely blank, thus the individual must take the initiative and direct the page’s population with content. “Everything starts with a search…..If you want to learn about a medical condition or decide which television to buy, you search,” the CNN article explains.
The path to Facebook on the other hand often begins in a vacuum and is essentially the refuge of the intellectually lazy or becomes our destination during our intellectually lazy moments, as the article continues “rather than search for a news article, you wait for your friends to tell you what to read.”
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, anthropologist Lionel Tiger argues that indeed Facebook’s appeal is to our most primal selves. He writes, “Mr. Zuckerberg has re-primatized a group of humans of unprecedented number, diffusion and intensity…..And why? Just because we’re primates with endlessly deep interest in each other, with a knack and need to groom each other-either physically, as monkeys do, or with “What a nice hairdo/dress/divorce/promotion!” as Facebookworms do.”
Google however represents a stark contrast. In the book ‘Start up nation,’ Yoelle Maarek, head of Google Israel’s research and development center explains the Jewish roots of ‘search,’ saying, “As Israelis and Jews, we are the people of the Book. We like to consult texts. We like to search.” The authors also point out that, “In 2008 Google Israel sold $100 million in advertising, about double the previous year and 10 percent of the total advertising market in Israel – a higher market share than Google has in most countries.”
Throughout history, intellectual rigor and tireless exploration of the world we live in, have been qualities that Jews have striven towards. As such, whilst both Facebook and Google are creations of young Jewish whiz kids, Google is the platform that should appeal most to the aspirational Jew within.
The author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.