Friday, November 25, 2011

Google™ as a Source for Due Diligence

Recently, I learnt that a certain national-level corporate regulatory body had named its watering-hole 'Auschwitz'. I did wonder briefly if the decor matched the name, and I shuddered to think of why these accountants would do such a thing.

I saw a post on someone else's blog, though, which chastised them for this — as well as for naming their food courts 'S21', which this other person pointed out was the name of some prison where torture was carried out by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. I found that a bit silly, although I suppose the two differ by degree and not by kind.

However, they also differ in other ways.

You can hardly Google 'Auschwitz' without coming upon what the vast majority of the world associates with the name — Nazi concentration camp, 'Arbeit Macht Frei', and at least half a million deaths (calculations go higher, but this is the most stable minimum) under horrible conditions and poison gas. There are about 20,000,000 search results all pointing the same way.

For 'S21', there are about 13,500,000 search results — and from the first page onwards, you already know that you might be looking at a code that can represent a Canon camcorder, an airport in Oregon, and a penicillin pill. You might miss by a bit and end up here, even.

The difference is clear. 'S21' is far more likely to be a tag which people don't necessarily associate with a nasty prison in Cambodia. That group of three characters doesn't carry enough significant information. But 'Auschwitz' is clearly enough for an association with the worst part of a terrible episode in human history.

Now that we can all Google™ these terms and examine the results, it's inexcusable to name your in-house pub 'Auschwitz'. 'S21' can be excused, although after you've read this, you might want to change it.

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