Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful

...hate me because I'm successful, effective, and because I give my customers what they ACTUALLY want!

I'm not talking about myself here, I'm talking about Google.

Now first of all let me point out that I don't work for Google, I don't get paid by them in any way. I have no vested interest, nor a personal agenda that would have me defend Google.

But they have, since the arrival of Gmail, consistently given me things that I want and need in the online world, and they've never held back providing useful services in order to collect a monthly fee or a subscription of any type. They've never once shown me something really good, but held the functional parts hostage behind the pay wall.

And I am flat out sick of hearing folks recoil reflexively in hate about Google.

* The "high daisy haters" despise Google because they're large and successful. Industry competitors spit in digust as the online giant provides millions of fans with the services they need without begging for nickels and dimes from consumers. Compulsive and distrustful paranoids (many of my friends, in other words) mutter, "yeah, but who knows what they do with all the information they collect."

* One colleague who ought to know better claimed that Google Docs was unreliable (FUD supplied: where?) and couldn't be used for serious work. This is a person who has technical skills sufficient to compile the operating system kernel for Linux, but didn't bother to spend the 20 minutes to learn what hundreds of thousands of Google Docs users know about the revision tracking system. Yes, the system isn't MS Office, but it's not meant to cover that ground. But I want the casual user of office productivity software to get the casual use version -- that's Google Docs. There is an easy way to manage the connection between that and power users who should use a power tool.

* Today a twitter posting decried Google's insistence that independent filmmakers provide credible proof of intellectual property ownership before Google would withdraw online presentation of videos. The complaint was about how "unfair" it is that they had to "prove" their ownership of a film when they demand that it be taken down from availability online.

Look people! Hate them if you wish. There are good reasons available. (But none as compelling as the reasons to hate Microsoft, Apple, or even Yahoo!)

But the rest of us are having a blast using the technologies that Google makes available to us for free. If hundreds of thousands of people accumulate millions of hours of productive time using a service, then it's hard for me to listen to the claims that the service doesn't work very well. (could that be operator error?)

I know a little bit about search technology (having taught engineers in the field for some time) and I can assure you that no one at Google is "reading" your email to weave the magic they do. (It's mathematics dummy!)

So am I crabby about this -- yeah! This is one time in the world of Internet technology that the irresistible fruit doesn't have a price attached. Can't we celebrate that?

Maybe not. To paraphrase one dear friend (did I remember to mention compulsively paranoid and cynical?): "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that no one's drooling over your consumer data."

I say, on the other hand, "gift horse, no Greeks inside."