Tag Archives: Google

Facebook changes are good – take a deep breath and let me explain

Listening to people talk about the changes to Facebook is a lot like listening to people talk about politics; it’s a lot of angry comments from the clueless.

I have been on Facebook for nearly seven years, and about once a year, the site undergoes major changes. The changes are always (and I mean always) met with anger and criticism. The way how some people react, you would think that their lives were going to be irrevocably impacted. If people got as outraged over famine as they do to changes to Facebook, no one in this world would ever starve.
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Filed under Commentary, Facebook, News, Technology

What headlines are missing about new Google CEO

According to Google’s blog, it was announced earlier this afternoon that Eric Schmidt is stepping down from his role as CEO of Google. This is true, but Schmidt is not leaving Google. He is still going to be heavily involved with the company and is simply assuming a different role.

Larry Page who is the co founder of Google will become CEO on April 4 while Schmidt will become Executive Chairman. Page was the original CEO of Google until 2001 when Schmidt took the helm. Page has remained heavily involved with the company and serves as Google’s products president.

Google’s other founder (Sergey Brin) is currently the company’s president of technology. His role seems like it will be much the same, and he will focus much of his time to working on new products, according to Schmidt’s post this afternoon on the Official Google Blog.

So what will Schmidt do in his new role as Executive Director? In his own words:

“As Executive Chairman, I will focus wherever I can add the greatest value: externally, on the deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership that are increasingly important given Google’s global reach; and internally as an advisor to Larry and Sergey.”

To the average person, this will have a largely unnoticeable impact. I get the sense that a big part of the reason was to make shareholders happy. It’s not that they were unhappy with Schmidt, but the change will more clearly define who is responsible for what and the hope of Google is that this will lead to increased accountability.


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Google Buzz a Google Bust

I initially liked the premise of Google Buzz, but a few weeks after its creation, the search engine’s attempt at social content sharing has turned out to be an unmitigated debacle, fraught with incensed Gmail users and class action lawsuits.

A part of me wants to say, “But THIS IS GOOGLE, this has to be good.” But the internet giant is not above reproach.

While people are not using Buzz yet, still I wonder if we will come around. When Facebook launched the News Feed in 2006, the reaction from many users was extremely negative.

If you are relatively new to Facebook, the initial home page on Facebook showed you your profile picture and a navigation menu that you could use to get around your profile. It also showed birthdays and gave you notifications if there were any messages. That was it. Overnight, this highly simplified layout was changed to what we now know as the News Feed. Your profile updates were put on the front page of people with whom you were friends. It came out of nowhere. Users argued that it seemed like a stalking tool.

Ultimately, people learned to accept News Feed and now it is simply part of Facebook. It’s not odd, it’s just there (and was actually awarded a patent at the end of last month). Could Buzz have a similarly positive fate? More and more I am leaning towards, “No.”

A key difference is that News Feed took information that you had already chosen to share on Facebook and simply moved it to the front page. And it was with people who were already your Facebook friends. Just because you communicate with someone in email does not mean you are really acquainted with that person.

What Buzz did was far more intrusive. It took content from various areas of your Google identity (e.g. the list of contacts on Google that you were following on Buzz) and made it public. With all of the negative feedback and bad press for Buzz, many people have deactivated the application all together. Those who remain on Buzz are unsure of what to do with it. It is too existential. Without a clear purpose, it is worthless. The only updates I am seeing on Buzz are status updates from people who have linked Buzz to Twitter (but even that isn’t truly an intentional update intended for Buzz).

In analyzing the application, during the creation and implementation of Buzz, Google made an error somewhere along the line in terms of their focus groups and the ways in which they gauged public response. I don’t know if part of this is the result of test groups of individuals who are more tech savvy and possibly more likely to enjoy such a feature, or what exactly Google did. In either case, one thing is clear; Google made a huge miscalculation.

This is clear because within the opening days of Buzz’s implementation, there was a public backlash with Google overhauling their privacy settings and the abilities by which a person can change his or her privacy settings. I argue that this would not have happened had Google had any idea of what the reaction to Buzz would be. When they realized their mistake, they had to rush to make changes.

I was initially intrigued as I thought Buzz could succeed on convenience. For many of us on Gmail, we login as often – or more often – than we do to Facebook, and the fact that Buzz, by default, set you up to follow people with whom you already have interaction through email seemed to have potential to allow for a more intimate social networking experience.

While Facebook is broad, and where you have lots of connections, Buzz seemed to allow easier access for you to follow a smaller group of people (many of whom you would presumably be more closely connected to).

In reality, a Google social content sharing service makes a lot of sense, but, for many, they did not appreciate Google automatically enrolling them in Buzz and making information which they did not necessarily want to be public, public. And as I have already alluded, there are multiple class action lawsuits for Buzz, while the application remains in your Gmail, going unused. What is the point of it? I argue that Google should scrap the entire project, regroup, and give content sharing another try.


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