Archive for Thursday, December 3, 2009

Is Google’s dominance for the long haul?

December 3, 2009

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Maria Bartiromo hosts “Inside the Mind of Google” (8 p.m., CNBC), a one-hour profile of the remarkable company best known for its search engine. Never has a company become so profitable so quickly or become so omnipresent as to become a verb in such a short time. “To Google” something has become synonymous with looking it up on the Internet, a daunting mindset for Google’s competitors to overcome. And one of those competitors, Yahoo, passed up on a chance to buy Google back in the day.

Like many business profiles, this celebrates the company’s smarts and profitability. We’re given a tour of company headquarters to marvel at its perks of free gourmet food, laundry and its “fun” atmosphere. But it also offers time to Google’s many critics, particularly privacy advocates who worry about the prospect of so many traceable searches being in the hands a single corporate entity.

Google has been subpoenaed in countless lawsuits and divorces. The Patriot Act also enables the government to gain access to private data without a court order.

“Mind” reminds us that there was a time (before Google) when Microsoft looked like the Goliath of information technology. For many young consumers, the phone has now replaced the computer as a means to access the Internet. And smart-phone technology is one area in which Google is in the rare position of playing catch-up.

• Part “Iron Chef,” part “American Choppers” and part poker tournament, the new series “BBQ Pitmasters” (9 p.m., TLC) invites viewers into the world of competitive grilling, smoking, rubs and marinades. Some smoke their meat slowly over low heat, and others let it sizzle. But almost every dish (brisket, ribs and chicken) is served with a side-order of testosterone. Episode 1 follows competitors to Mesquite, Nev., where the stakes are more than academic. The winner can walk away with $50,000.

• Speaking of heat and testosterone, the new reality series “Jersey Shore” (9 p.m., MTV) offers a “Real World”-style look at eight young Garden Staters sharing a place in the fabled, if faded, resort of Seaside Heights.

The show has drawn protests from Italian-American groups for its use of the word “Guido” to describe the show’s loud, crude, vulgar and self-absorbed participants. While I can’t say I blame the protesters for their concern, who is around to protect Southern Californians from their depiction on “The Hills”?

• A family of pachyderms navigates a drought-parched savannah in Kenya in the new animal-documentary-drama “Echo: Queen of the Elephants” (7 p.m., Animal Planet).

Tonight’s other highlights

• Zoey (Gabrielle Union) figures out her vision on “FlashForward” (7 p.m., ABC).

• A hypnotic bank-robber graduates to murder on “CSI” (8 p.m., CBS).

• A shipwreck and a giant squid pose unsettling questions on “Fringe” (8 p.m., Fox).

• Jane’s team looks into the murder of an intern on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).

• On two episodes of “Private Practice” (ABC), dysfunction (8 p.m.), explosions (9 p.m.). JoBeth Williams and Stephen Collins guest star.

• Liz begins work on her new talk show, “Dealbreakers,” on “30 Rock” (8:30 p.m., NBC).

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