Google sure seems to be everywhere these days. And it's easy to accept that they will use their powers for good. One poster points out that this technology makes it more likely that the pitches we see will be relevant to our needs; but in a larger sense, who knows what we need? Perhaps we really need to save money, which is made more difficult by a constant onslaught of ever-more-tempting pitches.
In the area of privacy, they might not always have the choice to First Do No Evil--the government could compel them to turn over information that they would prefer to keep confidential. Also, it appears that they are trying to "out-Facebook Facebook" by opening up their platform--and data--to outside developers: "Google will announce a new set of APIs on November 5 that will allow developers to leverage Google’s social graph data. They’ll start with Orkut and iGoogle (Google’s personalized home page), and expand from there to include Gmail, Google Talk and other Google services over time."
The details are sketchy, but unless they offer end-users the ability to maintain strict and fine-grained control over what is done with their personal data, this capability could certainly be exploited for unseemly ends--Facebook has had problems with people marketing their applications overly aggressively, and I think they could make more improvements on this score. On the other hand, by opening up this information, Google might be making this market even more open to competition.
One final bit of positive news out of google is the new YouTube nonprofits program, whereby they will provide branding support and publicity for nonprofit videos free-of-charge, in what looks like a cool bit of generosity.
One thing's for sure, Google is hard to figure out, and all-powerful at the same time.
Silver Spring, MD
Oct 3 2007 - 11:23am