Marketing to the woke

There’s a small tempest in an even smaller teapot about the search engine Kagi. They’re working with Brave, which is a very not woke company. The reaction from people who would otherwise support the first real competitor to big tech search has been predictable.

From Niléane, a MacStories writer:

Huge yikes.

Kagi is now partnering with Brave to power its search results — and they seem to be dismissing their users’ concerns regarding this partnership with a company that’s notorious for being led by a proud anti gay rights supporter.

Just as I’ve consistently advised against using Brave’s products, I now advise against using Kagi as long as it contributes to a homophobic business.

There can be no neutral politics when it comes to people’s rights and lives.

Look, there are very good reasons not to support Brave beyond not liking the CEOs political views. But this is yet another point where I think the whole woke thing breaks down. If you pander to the woke, you’ll eventually make some faux pas and get cancelled. You’ll never be woke enough and will have to navigate through an increasingly complex and arbitrary maze of who’s been canceled.

This level of absolutism stymies progress.

Once you ignore the social media histrionics, Ukrainians have been incredibly practical at avoiding absolutism and working towards pragmatic solutions. People and companies that directly support the war should be boycotted and shamed, but once you get past that there’s a lot of gray area.

A blanket ban on all things Russian, isn’t practical. Many Ukrainians have relatives in Russia, work at Russian companies, speak Russian. These ties can’t be severed instantly.

The real world is far too messy and complex for absolutism, and achieving real goals depends on cooperating with people you don’t like.

My priority is ending the monopoly of big tech, and an independent search engine is critical to that end, which is why I use Kagi. But there’s something deeper to it as well. Building a better world takes coalitions, compromises, and being able to work in gray areas, not moral absolutism.