Google Reader needs GPC

Oh, man, is the Google Reader team under attack for its new social networking features.

There’s a few ways I could take this.

1. I could call people idiots for not understanding the meaning of the word “public.”
2. I could call the Google Reader team idiots for not putting GPC into its social networking and sharing features.
3. I could call the media idiots for not explaining these features better and for even making it sound like stuff that isn’t shared at all is being shared (which absolutely isn’t true).

I’m going to take #2: that the Google Reader team screwed up here and needs to implement GPC as soon as possible. What’s GPC? Granular Privacy Controls.

Here’s how Google screwed up: Google didn’t understand that some users thought that their shared items feeds were private and didn’t know that they were going to be turned totally public. The users who are complaining about this feature assumed that since their feed had a weird URL (here’s mine so you can see that the URL isn’t easy to figure out the way other URLs are) that their feed couldn’t be found by search engines or by people who they didn’t explicitly give the URL to, etc. In other words, that their feed and page would, really, be private, even though it was shared in a public way without a password required or anything like that.

Now, I almost took the stance that the users are wrong. Except, well, in this case they aren’t and the Google Reader team should change the way this feature works.

Here’s how.

When you share a feed item you should have a choice about whether it is made really public (like my feeds are) or whether you keep them for just certain friends to view. Google needs to look to Facebook for leadership here.

If I don’t want you to see some content on Facebook I can lock you out while letting other friends see it. That’s “GPC.”

Facebook has GPC. Google Reader does not.

Social networking services that don’t have GPC will increasingly piss off users and chase them away to competitors that DO have GPC. Look at why SmugMug is so popular (and why its users PAY for the service!) A big part of it is GPC.

But, to the users you still are idiots for not understanding that when Google says “public” Google MEANS public. I’m not sure how much clearer Google could have made it, other than to maybe put a disclaimer that says something like “this feed might look sorta private right now, but we reserve the right to put this feed into public view at anytime for any reason. If you don’t want your shared items to be seen by everyone, please don’t share them.

I think the Google Reader team knew that it was going to have a problem here, though, because they gave its users the ability to delete all items in their shared item feed. Scary feature, too. I’ve spent thousands of hours building up that database and I almost used it by accident cause it sounded like a good feature to try. Yikes, glad I thought a little bit more than I usually do that night.

Anyway, Google Reader team: please enable GPC. Your users will keep yelling and screaming until you do. I know, cause a few of them have yelled and screamed at me about this feature.

UPDATE: I just signed in and there are 444 items shared with me from my friends. That’s not even counting the feed items that come to me just because of my almost 800 feeds. Yikes! Demonstrates that even Christmas can’t stop the information glut we’re seeing.

My feedback for Microsoft's mapping team

The Virtual Earth team wants our feedback.

Wonderful. Kudos to any company that wants its customers’ feedback and offers a participatory approach. So, here’s my feedback…

Microsoft added a LOT of whizbang features to its maps (3D, lots of photos, and such) but they didn’t focus on the basics.

First off, you need a redesign. Google is kicking your ass on simplicity. Microsoft’s UIs always seem to get more clutter. Your team should hire Ev Williams to come and give his talk that he just gave at LeWeb3. Get rid of stuff, don’t add it.

2. Mobile. Make it killer and do whatever it takes to get it on the iPhone.

3. Show examples of how to do great searches. Google does, you don’t (at least not before you get into a search box). Google is easier to use because of it.

4. Make it work for what people use maps for. Today I picked up Patrick at his school. I forgot how to get there. Patrick said “just search Google Maps for Petaluma Jr. High.” When I saw this note I tried the same on Microsoft’s system. Hint: Google worked, Microsoft didn’t.

5. Speed. Google is always faster everytime I try it. That doesn’t give me confidence that Microsoft is working on the right things.

6. When I search for “Mavericks, Half Moon Bay, CA” Google finds me a result, Microsoft doesn’t.

7. Split all the different views into different URLs. Have a page where I can select between them. If I wasn’t a former MSFTie I’d have no clue what the difference between “Aerial” and “Bird’s Eye View” is.

8. I still have no clue what “collections” are. “Saved Locations” explains what they are much better.

9. Don’t be pedantic. When I asked it to give me directions to PodTech’s offices it tried to correct my zip code from 94304 to 94304-1216. Google wasn’t annoying like that.

10. Microsoft’s maps look cooler (they show mountain terrain, etc) but are harder to read, particularly on laptop screens in bright sunlight. I find I actually switch to Google for this reason. Most of the time I really don’t need terrain, or pretty pictures, but just want a simplistic, easy to see in bright sunlight, map.

11. DO continue to kick Microsoft’s behind with Traffic data (I’m sure there’s other data you could overlay on the map the way you do with accident data, right?)

12. Redesign your directions results. Google got nine items in the same space that you only got six. I often look up maps on my laptop and that DOES make a difference!

13. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. That’s the best feature on ANY software I’ve used this year. I was showing it to Patrick today and it made him go “wow.” Not available on iPhone, but only on Google’s Mobile Maps version. This was a MAGICAL feature over in Europe!

14. You don’t understand the magic of the word “link.” I can always figure out Google Maps and how to embed it into my blog. It’s tough for me to figure out how to link to a Microsoft Map. Yeah, I’m an idiot so you might write that off as idiotic behavior but, remember, I worked the Microsoft customer support lines so I know there are other idiots out there like me. Some of them even blog. Every blog brings you traffic, even if the only reader that blog has is mom and dad. Call it a f***ing permalink and call it a day, will you please?

15. I’m surprised no one has used their photo trucks to put little pictures next to driving directions. Instead on both maps I get “turn right onto SR-92.” Why don’t you put a little picture of what the sign looks like? I’d love it if you said “you’ll see a sign that looks like this right before you need to turn right.”

16. Amazing that NEITHER Google or Microsoft have a link that says “using GPS.” I’d love to have a page that explains all about how GPS works, which models are the coolest to use with these mapping systems, and what I need to get and how I need to hook it up. This could even be a profit center. If Microsoft linked over to Amazon’s store they’d get a kickback for each GPS sold.

17. Google Maps remember my default location. Microsoft Maps don’t seem to remember anything.

18. Google has more viewing area horizontally. For some reason my eye likes that.

Well, that’s enough. I’m not sure why I like Google Maps more, but they keep being my default and nothing I saw on this little jaunt tonight made me question that decision. I have never needed 3D imagery to get around, preferring the simple approach (although those features are impressive).

What do you think? What would you work on if you were on the Microsoft Mapping team? I haven’t even attempted to look up anything international, either. But Google was very accurate in Paris and London and told me instantly where I was thanks to its My Location feature. That really is the killer feature for me and it’s one that now gets me to use my Nokia N95 to look at maps instead of my iPhone (the iPhone is better for viewing and navigating around maps, though, but that one feature has proven much more important to me than anything else in the mapping experience).

Anyway, good luck!

Oh, and has anyone built a map mashup yet for Facebook? I’d love to see where all my friends are located around the world.

Google is taking over the mobile world

Tonight was updated for iPhone. I film a little demo on Seesmic. TechCrunch broke the news as far as I can tell (Google Reader is getting damn fast at bringing me everyone’s blogs).

Anyway, this is yet more reasons I’ll be using Google on mobile phones.

I’m even ready to eat my words about Android since Verizon announced they’d be supporting Google’s new mobile OS.

And have you tried the new “My Location” feature on Google’s mobile maps? That rocks — I’ve used it dozens of times over the past week and it makes using Google Maps on a cell phone a LOT more useful.

Is anyone else getting you to use its services on mobile phones?

Oh, Sean Percival says “I like it” on his Seesmic video about the iPhone.

UPDATE: MG Siegler has a more complete review, which talks about the new auto suggesting feature which does, indeed, rock.

UPDATE2: David Jacobs says “holy crap” and “it’s amazing.”

Did Verizon kneecap Google's Android?

Joe Wilcox has an interesting point: that Verizon just slapped Google across the face. I know a lot of geeks gave me heck about my stance on Android, but Google is swimming upstream here. It’ll be interesting to see if Android gets traction. Developers love it, yes, but that’s far from the only thing that determines market success these days. At minimum, though, it’s great to see carriers and other big companies being forced to react to Google’s moves. For that alone we should all cheer Google on.

Scoble's wrong about Android, commenters say

Scoble’s wrong. At least that’s what a good number of commenters say on my post yesterday.

On Sunday night I was being interviewed by Guy Kawasaki at the Stanford Publishing Course. Lots of famous publishers in the audience, including Scott Karp, who captured a few minutes with his video camera, and I told them this is why I like online media: it’s two way.

In old media if you see an idiot on TV you can’t effectively yell back. Today you can and I think that’s freaking awesome.

How do I know I really was wrong? Christopher Coulter agreed with me in those comments. He never agrees with me so I MUST have been wrong! 🙂

Google Android: we want developers but…

So, I’m watching the Android video and talking with my friends who are developers. Man, I thought my videos were boring, this one takes the cake.

Steve Jobs does NOT have to worry about losing his job to the folks from Google.

I didn’t see ONE feature that will get normal people to switch from the iPhone. This comes across like something developers developed for other developers without thought of how they were going to build a movement.

How do we know this developer API is uninspired? They are bribing developers with $10 million in prize money.

Compare to the iPhone. Steve Jobs treats developers like crap. Doesn’t give them an SDK. Makes them hack the phones simply to load apps. And they create hundreds of apps anyway. Now, Apple is getting is act together. Early next year an SDK is coming. So now developers will have both sexy hardware, a sexy OS (under iPhone is OSX, an OS that’s been in wide use for years now), AND a well-thought-out SDK.

But, here’s why Android is getting received with a yawn from me:

1. It was released without a personal approach. When Steve Jobs brings out new stuff he does it in front of people. Not in a cold video (as much as I love video it doesn’t inspire the way sitting in an audience does and getting to put my own hands on it).
2. This stuff is still vaporware. No phones are available with it. At Microsoft I learned DO NOT TRUST THINGS THAT THEY WON’T SHOW ME WORKING. Remember Longhorn? Er, Vista? The first time I saw it was largely in a format like this — it looked cool but it wasn’t running anywhere and they wouldn’t let me play with the cool demos. I’ll never make that mistake again. If you want my support for your platform I need to be able to use it and show it to my friends.
3. The UI looks confused. Too many metaphors. One reason the iPhone does so well is because the UI is fairly consistent. Fun, even. How do I know this? My ex-wife hates technology and she bought one and loves it. I try to imagine her getting a Google Android phone and getting very frustrated with a mixture of drop-down menus, clicking metaphors, and touch metaphors. At some point she’ll give it back and go back to the iPhone, which only presents a touch metaphor.
4. No real “love” for developers. Heck, I don’t know of a single developer who has had his/her hands on Android. And all we get is this cold video that just doesn’t inspire me to believe in the future of the platform. I know Dave Winer didn’t feel the love from the Open Social “campfire” event, but at least there we heard from quite a few third-party developers. That made me believe in the platform because I knew that they had already gotten at least SOME third-party developers on board. Heck, remember Facebook? Go back and see when I got excited by Facebook. It was two weeks after the F8 platform announcement. Why then? Because I saw that iLike got six million users in two weeks and was staying up. So, that communicated two things to me: 1. that the platform attracted interesting developers. 2. that Facebook was well enough architected to stay up, even under pretty dramatic load. Android is a LONG way from demonstrating either of these things to the market.
5. Google needs to get atomic videos. On an announcement like this there shouldn’t have been one long video, but rather 50 small ones, each demonstrating a separate API. Developers today are busy. Fully employed. They want easy to understand instructions for how to integrate platform stuff into their stuff. It’s amazing that Google itself doesn’t understand how its own search engine works. If it did, they would see the advantage of creating lots of video, not just one (because then they would be more likely to get found for a variety of search terms, not just a few — it’s one reason I create at least a video every day and it’s paid off very well for me). I’m giving Vic Gundotra the same advice — his long Open Social “campfire video” should have been cut up into the atoms that made up that video. Sure, put the long complete video up too (the molecule) but cut it up. Yes, yes, I know, I don’t take my own advice but then I have an excuse: it costs money, er time, to edit video and I don’t have a lot of it. Google doesn’t have that excuse.
6. Google’s PR comes across as “only caring about big bangs.” Last week I was in the Open Social press conference. Everyone else in the room worked for a big-name media outlet. Business Week. Wall Street Journal. Los Angeles Times. CNET. Barrons. etc. etc. Even TechCrunch was relegated to a phone-based seat and wasn’t in the room. That tells me that Google’s PR doesn’t get the value of small people. In fact, if you were tracking the mentions of that press call you’d have seen my use of Twitter during it got mentioned many times on blogs. Google’s PR didn’t seem to even understand why Twitter was important. They also kept me from using my video camera during the press call (the only reason I got video is cause I carried a cell phone with me — they asked me to leave my professional camera out in the car). Compare that to presidential candidate John Edwards who let me film, even on his plane during “off times.” And he has a Twitter account too.
7. It looks too much like a poor copy of the iPhone. They didn’t talk about ONE thing that the iPhone doesn’t do. Where’s the car integration? Why didn’t they focus a LOT on GPS, or video creation, or something else the iPhone doesn’t do. Do we really want to spin a Google earth map? Really? That doesn’t turn me on. Showing me working on this thing would turn me on — that’s something the iPhone doesn’t do. Showing me killer podcasting-creation features would turn me on. That’s something the iPhone doesn’t do well. Instead we get some video game that we all played 10 years ago. Yawn. OK, OK, I know Android plays Quake and the iPhone doesn’t. But, come on, we all know a game API is coming for the iPhone and is that really going to get a lot of people to buy Android?

Anyway, so far I’m disappointed in Android. Maybe they’ll get it together, but until then I’ll remember the Russian Government official’s cell phone. He’s running Windows Mobile. Why? Cause developers in his community are building stuff for it. I’ll keep checking in with him to see if Android has gotten any traction.

Are you sensing that Google is just not very good at technology evangelism? After all, look at how successful Google has been outside of search. It hasn’t really had a good home run that we can point to outside of that. I think that’s because Google is coming across as too arrogant, too interested in only “important developers and people,” and doesn’t understand how to pitch end users and developers at the same time (developers only really come after end users do anyway, look again at the iPhone).

But what do I know, I’m just a blogger, right?

UPDATE: Patrick, on TwitterGram, says “it looks like a ripoff of the iPhone.”

UPDATE2: other responses are rolling in from around the Internet. Engadget. GigaOm.