Fear Of Google. FOG. It’s all over the blogs today. I just got done reading my feeds and here’s the posts that have FOG all over them:
Mary Jo Foley: Google is failing the Microsoft litmus test.
James Robertson: Is Google Big and Stupid Already?
Sebastien St-Laurent: Does Google Have a Double Standard?
Todd Cochrane: Google is Buying FeedBurner, this is pure Evil!
Philipp Lenssen: Is the Google Video PlusBox Fair?
Shelley Powers: Your Life, Googled.
Scott Karp: Google’s Video PlusBox May Be Its Most Disruptive Feature Ever.
Janet Driscoll Miller: What the Heck is Google’s Business Plan?
OpenDNS Blog: Google turns the page … in a bad way.
Danny Sullivan: Google & Dell’s Revenue-Generating URL Error Pages Drawing Fire.
More of the Dell and Google thing is being talked about over on TechMeme.
Actually, I think FOG is changing into DOG. Distrust/Disdain Of Google. What do you think?
Me? Google is too secretive. Too unwilling to engage. Too aloof. Oh, and Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, has lost touch with how normal people think (if these quotes are correct, and that’s a big “if”). If they are correct I think it’s evidence that he’s been hanging around too many advertising execs lately. Their goal is to put impulses into your mind so you take certain actions (like buy Diet Coke instead of Diet Pepsi). Believe it or not advertising execs talk like that. So, when Eric is reported to have said, during a visit to Britain this week: “The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?’” we all get a little freaked out. We don’t want Google to know that much about us.
Or do you?
Also, the secrecy at Google is rubbing off on its PR in other ways — when we meet Google employees at events like Maker Faire (I met several on Saturday) and many of them can’t tell me anything about what they do beyond “I work in networking.”
It’s these personal interactions that make us mistrust what’s going on inside Google. They are building the world’s most fantastic advertising engine but they won’t explain a little bit about who they are, and what they are doing to make our searches better? To be fair, I also met Matt Cutts there and he’s very open about what he’s doing, but Google really needs to open up a bit more.
If I were working in PR there, I’d invite in regular bloggers (not just A-List egoists like that Scoble guy) and let them talk to the engineers so they can see what the engineering intent is when they are doing things that are tracking us. And stop talking like an advertising executive. More and more of my friends are getting freaked out by just how much data Google (and other advertising based companies) are collecting and the inferences they are starting to make about the kind of people we are.
I saw lots of reactions to Feedburner’s purchase by Google decrying that Google will know what feeds they are subscribed to.
I think Google has to be very transparent, very warm, and very open when it comes to privacy and the data it’s collecting on all of us and to many of us it’s coming across as closed, cold, and opaque. That leads to bad PR. Bad PR — if continued unabated — leads to government action. Just ask my friends at Microsoft.
Is that what Google wants here?