Note before i start:
Much of this little post i wrote yesterday might be made a little obsolete by today’s interview with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt,
in which he basically explains exactly what i am saying – just in Google speak.
A while ago, while everybody was getting worked up about facebooks privacy crimes, i wrote down a note:
“Any attempt at social networking by organizations whose fundamental interest is not social but profit oriented
will always be flawed. Some will work for us, others we will dump. That is how simple that is.”
Some months on, facebook isn’t so much the issue anymore, and we are testing G+.
And getting really annoyed with it.
One interpretation might be that Google once more is about to demonstrate its incredible ability to get social networks completely wrong,
and sink their next promising attempt in this field, after Wave and Buzz.
Sometimes i think they must be running an internal competition in which various subteams come up with great new things
and other departments are asked to wreck it by means of marketing, policy, or timing.
Like some “kill a good idea” shootout.
Anyway, i m sidetracking.
My old note from above may be formulated even more generic:
Problems arise when intention and action are not aligned,
when the reason for a certain activity is not aligned with the motivation behind.
These problems typically take the form of increased levels of bullshit, insincerity, misunderstandings, open conflicts.
Many in my field of work (technology, science, networks) see Google as a technology company,
a network company, and – maybe even – a social network company.
It is not.
We classify companies according to their core business, their major source of income.
We dont say a pizza shop is in the car business, or in road infrastructure business,
just because they drive out pizzas in a car, via streets and roads.
Google is an ad agency with an amazingly strong tech department.
Many of Google’s tech products benefit my work incredibly, from search to calendar to G+.
I am often enthusiastic about what they come up with in the field of technology, and what other fields they move into –
for example, when they invest in wind and solar farms or networks for the less privileged.
There s a lot to be grateful for.
However, that should not obstruct the view on what Google is,
and why they fail at stuff that doesnt align with their core business.
Google has a pizza to deliver.
Google has ads to sell.
So Google has to be interested in products, profiles, real consumers, real wallets.
They d like to rank – up with Lady Gaga (despite the name), down with a woman who educates about abuse problems (because of her name).
They are not interested in social qualities.
(Here, we obviously ignore the naive viewpoint of some mystic upcoming merger between business and social interest – much as we d like to see that coming.)
For online security, often abused as a motivator, the “real name” of a person is without any meaning.
Nobody with an understanding of network security will claim that G+’s crusade for true identity adds any protection against cyber evil.
For an online community interested in meaningful communications, it s no problem not knowing the “real name” of who you are talking to.
For an ad agency, it is.
They way they are trying to enforce their interest will mean
they ll lose some 10% of their customers (not the world, but significant)
and fail miserably for the other 90%.