Google Fiber, a fiber network a hundred times faster than anything available for the normal consumer. Quite possibly the Holy Grain of modern broadband. And Google knows it.

As part of their test rollout for Fiber, they are having a sort of contest where communities and residents of those communities can nominate themselves for consideration and then make tons and tons of user generated content to support that nomination. What ever community Google finally picks will have the fiber piped throughout the town and priced at a rate competitive to what is currently being offered.

Now this is where Google’s nature of being a little disingenuous comes in. Their guiding principle is to “not be evil”, but I wouldn’t say they fall squarely in the “good” camp, either. Google makes their billions by creating things that people want to use at no apparently cost to the user, and then they sell that user data to advertisers like me. You might say it’s a fair trade. Google Documents is free, where as Microsoft word is fairly pricey, but you have to deal with advertisements while you work. Google’s insidiousness lies in their subtlety. They are doing their damnedest to bring you the best possible Internet experience, but only so you’ll use more of their products and spend more time on the web so they can in turn sell you more ads. They are drug dealers, and information is their hustle.

For me, the disingenuousness with Google Fiber is in the appearance of giving every community a chance, a real chance, at actually becoming the test market, and that the content people are producing is actually not part of the application process, but a foundation for a marketing campaign.

Look at it like a reality TV show that has a user voting element. Everyone may love Person A, but the producers of the tv show think that person isn’t creating enough drama to keep ratings high, so they pull out their veto and kick that person off the show – regardless of the user voting numbers.

The Google Fiber application process is probably operating much in the same way. On some white board out in California, there is probably a short list of five to ten cities that Google has already scoped out for the Fiber test. Places under a certain population threshold are probably out, as are place over one. Go too small and no one notices, go too big and the cost is prohibitive. Places with climate or locations problems are most likely immediately discarded, too. Hawaii or Alaska? Not a chance. Live below or at sea level like New Orleans or Savannah? Won’t happen. Google is covering its ass is in the fact that the application is open, in the vein of all of Google’s “not be evil” projects. With thousands of cities and millions of people tossing around nominations, you can be sure that the cities on the Google white board are on that list, enabling the Big G to avoid any sticky accusations of them pulling the winning choice out of their ass. Sure, we’d all love to see our own cities get Google Fiber, but unless we meet the specific criteria Google is looking for, no amount preaching will matter. The producers veto the voters.

But if the application process is a sham, what does that mean for the all of the user generated content that out there extolling the reasons why Google Fiber should be put in City XYZ?

It means that Google has the smartest marketing time on the planet.

The marketing strategy behind this Google Fiber contest is multi-tiered and brilliant. The first level is the application process – the chance that Google will come charging out of their technological castle, a prince in fiber optic armor, to sweep you up and away from a life toiling away on slow, over priced networks – is enough to give everyone applying for Fiber a feeling of good will toward Google. After all, you can’t be mean to the person who’s considering giving you something for next to nothing, and in that act of giving, makes you the coolest kid on the block.

The next tier is the user generated content – which oddly enough even this blog posts falls into. User generated content isn’t like an adverting campaign. It doesn’t have an expiration date, it stays active and viewable forever. The deadline for Google Fiber nominations is this Friday, but two weeks from now there will still be videos and blog posts of people extolling the virtues of Google Fiber and why their city needs it. Before there is even a product to see, Google has created the perception that theirs is the absolute best. Comcast would spend hundreds of millions to have that said about their product, and Google got it for free by being just a bit more clever – and tricky.

My point in talking about all of this is one of truth. I like what Google is doing because it make communities think about their technological future as well as work together to get a message out to the world about why they are deserving of this. But I don’t like the fact that it is mainly a song and dance to lay the foundation for something that is most likely only really an option for a half dozen cities that Google has already vetted. Google is going about this in the least evil way they know how, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking that gift horse – or fiber – in the mouth. Everything you do to promote your city also promotes Google.

Just keep that in mind.

PS: Don’t forget to nominate Memphis if you haven’t already!

…what? I never said I wouldn’t do just about anything to get Google Fiber. You hear that, Google? ANYTHING. *licks lips*