DOG (Distrust/Disdain of Google) moves in

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?

126 thoughts on “DOG (Distrust/Disdain of Google) moves in

  1. I have a nice little conspiracy tinged article on my blog on the Google investment in the genetic testing company. They way I feel about Google is much the same way I feel about my girlfriend. When I need her, I am glad she is around, but I still get kinda queasy thinking about her having access to all my stuff.

  2. I have a nice little conspiracy tinged article on my blog on the Google investment in the genetic testing company. They way I feel about Google is much the same way I feel about my girlfriend. When I need her, I am glad she is around, but I still get kinda queasy thinking about her having access to all my stuff.

  3. So everyone was afraid of Microsoft? Now everyone is afraid or distrustful of Google. The federal government has always known everything about us. What’s the big deal?

  4. So everyone was afraid of Microsoft? Now everyone is afraid or distrustful of Google. The federal government has always known everything about us. What’s the big deal?

  5. I have to say in 6 years I have been advertising on Google this is the first time I am now looking to advertise in newspapers again. I think many small busnesses like mine are thinking of moving back to tradtional advertising as its becoming more costly to convert adword enquiries. I did a test last week in a local paper and pound for pound I got a better return through the paper!!! Never thought I would say that.

  6. I have to say in 6 years I have been advertising on Google this is the first time I am now looking to advertise in newspapers again. I think many small busnesses like mine are thinking of moving back to tradtional advertising as its becoming more costly to convert adword enquiries. I did a test last week in a local paper and pound for pound I got a better return through the paper!!! Never thought I would say that.

  7. I swear, Robert, you’re about the only one of the ‘players’ that ever links to me or anything I write. I disagree with you a lot, am and will continue to be critical, but I’ll say this: you’re both inclusive and generous with your links and I appreciate your attempts to bring me into the discussion.

  8. I swear, Robert, you’re about the only one of the ‘players’ that ever links to me or anything I write. I disagree with you a lot, am and will continue to be critical, but I’ll say this: you’re both inclusive and generous with your links and I appreciate your attempts to bring me into the discussion.

  9. I still dream of the day when companies will grow to a certain size before their self imposed ethics will force them to split up into smaller units. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a company split into several smaller independent chunks, instead of continuing to amass power by further and further concentrating it, by buying the next 100 ideas and destroying all the creative energy that was previously expressing itself freely, trying to show itself openly to the world. There have been far too many examples of this process in the last year or so.

    Each time an idea is bought it needs to be ‘integrated’ into the behemoth, forced to comply to a certain shape and form. And as the behemoth gets bigger it becomes the evil empire by virtue of its size and the mechanisms that govern every large organization. Sure, there are differences, but in the end the outcome will be a slightly different monster of grand proportions, just a variation on what we have seen in other contexts before.

  10. I still dream of the day when companies will grow to a certain size before their self imposed ethics will force them to split up into smaller units. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a company split into several smaller independent chunks, instead of continuing to amass power by further and further concentrating it, by buying the next 100 ideas and destroying all the creative energy that was previously expressing itself freely, trying to show itself openly to the world. There have been far too many examples of this process in the last year or so.

    Each time an idea is bought it needs to be ‘integrated’ into the behemoth, forced to comply to a certain shape and form. And as the behemoth gets bigger it becomes the evil empire by virtue of its size and the mechanisms that govern every large organization. Sure, there are differences, but in the end the outcome will be a slightly different monster of grand proportions, just a variation on what we have seen in other contexts before.

  11. Its the tall poppy syndrome and a lot of people think that Google somehow owes them a free ride

    ron isn’t really a company in the ‘normal’ :-)

    Just because Matt Interened there doesn’t meen its an evil conspiracy tm.

    They do have some issues and need to get a lot more savy in how they play the political game.

  12. Its the tall poppy syndrome and a lot of people think that Google somehow owes them a free ride

    ron isn’t really a company in the ‘normal’ :-)

    Just because Matt Interened there doesn’t meen its an evil conspiracy tm.

    They do have some issues and need to get a lot more savy in how they play the political game.

  13. Does it matter if Google is warm & fuzzy or not? Not really. They have the data, their being nice about it doesn’t change that. This has always been the strategy, to gather as much information as possible, right? So, you know, DOG has existed for some of us from the outset. In fact, that is the part of Web 2.0 that I don’t like: Generally I have to share data in order to participate. Some data sharing is innocuous of course but it is those companies who gather more than the usual that make me run away from them if they aren’t *crystal clear* about what they plan to do with those data.

  14. Does it matter if Google is warm & fuzzy or not? Not really. They have the data, their being nice about it doesn’t change that. This has always been the strategy, to gather as much information as possible, right? So, you know, DOG has existed for some of us from the outset. In fact, that is the part of Web 2.0 that I don’t like: Generally I have to share data in order to participate. Some data sharing is innocuous of course but it is those companies who gather more than the usual that make me run away from them if they aren’t *crystal clear* about what they plan to do with those data.

  15. Wow, What are you going to do Google? When I was talking against you, you’ve send me hundreds of miles away in your ranks (Fear Inside Goggle?). Don’t do that for all, Cool down Google!

    Developers Developers Developers – past
    Advertisers, Advertisers, Advertisers – present
    Trust, Respect, Privacy – is the future!

    Thanks
    saran

  16. Wow, What are you going to do Google? When I was talking against you, you’ve send me hundreds of miles away in your ranks (Fear Inside Goggle?). Don’t do that for all, Cool down Google!

    Developers Developers Developers – past
    Advertisers, Advertisers, Advertisers – present
    Trust, Respect, Privacy – is the future!

    Thanks
    saran

  17. Robert: One thing i wonder is how your linkblog is coping with copyright. Is there a difference between copy and paste the material into a neutral blog and link to the source and using Google reader to publish the RSS feeds content?

    Isn´t your linkblog an infringement to Read/write blogs copyright? Why should i visit Read/write when i can read your Google reader feed?

    I think this discussion about RSS and content is worth taking because i can see in the future how we need to handle these issues.

  18. Robert: One thing i wonder is how your linkblog is coping with copyright. Is there a difference between copy and paste the material into a neutral blog and link to the source and using Google reader to publish the RSS feeds content?

    Isn´t your linkblog an infringement to Read/write blogs copyright? Why should i visit Read/write when i can read your Google reader feed?

    I think this discussion about RSS and content is worth taking because i can see in the future how we need to handle these issues.

  19. I don’t like how Google can link the cookies that every website with Google ads has to my google account (that includes Gmail, **search history**, usenet history, notebook, etc). That disturbs me so I use Yahoo more often now, and my ISP email that at least as PIPEDA protection as opposed to Gmail that never really is deleted. Plus my gmail account used to store all the different usernames + passwords that various websites had….sigh.

    So Robert, IMO you’re not alone; and that particular article from Eric Shmidt on Google finding jobs for us is jus the tip of the iceberg.

    Although let’s be real, all of the search engines. I remember that MSN, Yahoo, and Excite gave info to the gov’t without fighting, while Google apparently did fight against it. And let’s not even get into their conduct in China.

  20. I don’t like how Google can link the cookies that every website with Google ads has to my google account (that includes Gmail, **search history**, usenet history, notebook, etc). That disturbs me so I use Yahoo more often now, and my ISP email that at least as PIPEDA protection as opposed to Gmail that never really is deleted. Plus my gmail account used to store all the different usernames + passwords that various websites had….sigh.

    So Robert, IMO you’re not alone; and that particular article from Eric Shmidt on Google finding jobs for us is jus the tip of the iceberg.

    Although let’s be real, all of the search engines. I remember that MSN, Yahoo, and Excite gave info to the gov’t without fighting, while Google apparently did fight against it. And let’s not even get into their conduct in China.

  21. You mention a vital point. So often CEOs / management board members no longer are surrounded by everday people when their business get’s successful. Then more and more consultants, analysts etc. Hence they loose the tight relationship and dialogue with the people they should focus on.

  22. You mention a vital point. So often CEOs / management board members no longer are surrounded by everday people when their business get’s successful. Then more and more consultants, analysts etc. Hence they loose the tight relationship and dialogue with the people they should focus on.

  23. Scoble said “many of them can’t tell me anything about what they do beyond “I work in networking.””

    I strongly disagree on that one (and many things you have said lately by the way).

    Google is not secretive at all. When you reverse engineer search results, or ad ranks, you know what information they are gathering, how they are using it. Have you forgotten anybody can use operators such as link: ?

    Your rant against Google reminds me of a Microsoft apologist’s rant where anything non-Microsoft is bad.

    Quit blogging.

  24. Scoble said “many of them can’t tell me anything about what they do beyond “I work in networking.””

    I strongly disagree on that one (and many things you have said lately by the way).

    Google is not secretive at all. When you reverse engineer search results, or ad ranks, you know what information they are gathering, how they are using it. Have you forgotten anybody can use operators such as link: ?

    Your rant against Google reminds me of a Microsoft apologist’s rant where anything non-Microsoft is bad.

    Quit blogging.

  25. The truth is that Google isn’t really a company in the ‘normal’ sense, as they are actually a front for the NSA. Google is the perfect society monitoring tool. GMail is the masterstroke of the NSA’s er, Google’s goal of knowing all about us. When we entrust our personal mail to Google they promise to mine it. We give them permission by using the free service. No search warrants. No laws broken. All monitoring and knowledge scraping is performed by a legal quasi-governmental company; Google.

    Just so happens that more than provide advertisers with leads on which soda to recommend to us, the NSA is also tracking our thoughts, interests and impulses (via the tracking of Google searches) and cross-linking them with the contents of our personal email exchanges. Pedophiles caught. Terrorists nabbed. Political revolutionaries exterminated (oops, oh well 2/3 ain’t bad).

    If you don’t believe this, check out other NSA-fronted businesses, like the one Howard Hughes did in the 1970′s. I’m sure a Google search will give you all the information you need. (oh the irony!)

  26. The truth is that Google isn’t really a company in the ‘normal’ sense, as they are actually a front for the NSA. Google is the perfect society monitoring tool. GMail is the masterstroke of the NSA’s er, Google’s goal of knowing all about us. When we entrust our personal mail to Google they promise to mine it. We give them permission by using the free service. No search warrants. No laws broken. All monitoring and knowledge scraping is performed by a legal quasi-governmental company; Google.

    Just so happens that more than provide advertisers with leads on which soda to recommend to us, the NSA is also tracking our thoughts, interests and impulses (via the tracking of Google searches) and cross-linking them with the contents of our personal email exchanges. Pedophiles caught. Terrorists nabbed. Political revolutionaries exterminated (oops, oh well 2/3 ain’t bad).

    If you don’t believe this, check out other NSA-fronted businesses, like the one Howard Hughes did in the 1970′s. I’m sure a Google search will give you all the information you need. (oh the irony!)

  27. I guess while you’re small, you’re the cool upstart underdog. You get big and you become The Man.

    What Google should be aiming for is to get their “Channel9″ moment in before it’s too late. Microsoft is doing a lot of things right nowadays, but there are still a lot of people who remember the eviler Microsoft of old. If Google play their cards right, they might not get tarred with that brush at all.

  28. I guess while you’re small, you’re the cool upstart underdog. You get big and you become The Man.

    What Google should be aiming for is to get their “Channel9″ moment in before it’s too late. Microsoft is doing a lot of things right nowadays, but there are still a lot of people who remember the eviler Microsoft of old. If Google play their cards right, they might not get tarred with that brush at all.

  29. There’s a basic contradiction between Google’s motto “Don’t Be Evil” and their requirement as a public company to do anything legal to maximize profit. The very adoption of the motto shows that they are aware of the moral risks in their position.

    I think people are just starting to acknowledge what they have not wanted to think about before now — the concentration of such vast information assets in a single company is inherently risky. They may not intend to be evil, but who ever does?

  30. There’s a basic contradiction between Google’s motto “Don’t Be Evil” and their requirement as a public company to do anything legal to maximize profit. The very adoption of the motto shows that they are aware of the moral risks in their position.

    I think people are just starting to acknowledge what they have not wanted to think about before now — the concentration of such vast information assets in a single company is inherently risky. They may not intend to be evil, but who ever does?

  31. Google is undergoing a fundamental shift from “do no evil” in their DoubleClick purchase. They were committed to never using past history in their ad targeting, DoubleClick wipes that out.

    That is a huge shift for Google. It goes against everything they have ever said in the past. Personally, I can see Google having very rough times very soon as people begin to back away from their services.

  32. Google is undergoing a fundamental shift from “do no evil” in their DoubleClick purchase. They were committed to never using past history in their ad targeting, DoubleClick wipes that out.

    That is a huge shift for Google. It goes against everything they have ever said in the past. Personally, I can see Google having very rough times very soon as people begin to back away from their services.

  33. But doesn’t it make sense for Eric Schmidt to talk like an advertising executive? He is the CEO of an advertising company.

  34. But doesn’t it make sense for Eric Schmidt to talk like an advertising executive? He is the CEO of an advertising company.

  35. Robert – I have been very outspoken over the past couple of years on Feedburner, that is no secret you search my blog you will find my reasoning.

    That being said I also have extreme respect for the privacy of the visitors of my website, thus when I found out that sitemeter was doing some nasty stuff I removed their web stats package from my website.

    I understand that advertising is what is driving the online world, heck I make money from advertising myself.

    I find it very creepy, that Google will be able to close the loop through the FeedBurner and other acquisitions, and not only track what we search, ads we click on they now will be able to see nearly everything we are subscribed to.

    At a micro level who cares until someone goes digging for info. Before this data was spread out among a multiple of companies that usually did not work good together and hard to combine without mass cooperation of those companies and other services.

    But what you have now essentially is a company that has the worlds best intelligence operation can Google be trusted not to share that info with foreign governments or even our own?

  36. Robert – I have been very outspoken over the past couple of years on Feedburner, that is no secret you search my blog you will find my reasoning.

    That being said I also have extreme respect for the privacy of the visitors of my website, thus when I found out that sitemeter was doing some nasty stuff I removed their web stats package from my website.

    I understand that advertising is what is driving the online world, heck I make money from advertising myself.

    I find it very creepy, that Google will be able to close the loop through the FeedBurner and other acquisitions, and not only track what we search, ads we click on they now will be able to see nearly everything we are subscribed to.

    At a micro level who cares until someone goes digging for info. Before this data was spread out among a multiple of companies that usually did not work good together and hard to combine without mass cooperation of those companies and other services.

    But what you have now essentially is a company that has the worlds best intelligence operation can Google be trusted not to share that info with foreign governments or even our own?

  37. http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/
    He was in the NSA, that’s secretive enough. Apparently from what I hear from other NSA alumni he’s not very popular there anymore.
    http://infolab.stanford.edu/~sergey/
    Well, that’s certainly not very secretive.
    http://code.google.com/
    That’s not either.
    Are Google jerks?
    Yeah, not more than Microsoft though.
    Are they evil?
    Definitely less than Microsoft.
    I think the FUD on them is just the hype du jour.
    “If I were working in PR there”
    Bzzzzt.

  38. http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/
    He was in the NSA, that’s secretive enough. Apparently from what I hear from other NSA alumni he’s not very popular there anymore.
    http://infolab.stanford.edu/~sergey/
    Well, that’s certainly not very secretive.
    http://code.google.com/
    That’s not either.
    Are Google jerks?
    Yeah, not more than Microsoft though.
    Are they evil?
    Definitely less than Microsoft.
    I think the FUD on them is just the hype du jour.
    “If I were working in PR there”
    Bzzzzt.

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