Tag Archives for google
The other day my uncle and I were emailing about a recent family trip, and posting pictures online. Perhaps not knowing exactly what he was getting himself into, he asked me: “How concerned are you about matters of privacy regarding Facebook, Picasa, Twitter and others? Your dad told me not long ago that he had stopped using Facebook because of that concern. For example, are you concerned, as I am, that my photos on Picasa will remain in the hands of Google even if your aunt closes her account? Am I being too sensitive about this?”
Since I feel this was somewhat apropos to the release of Google+, I thought I would share how I responded to him.
So, I somewhat accidentally wrote you two answers since you asked what was perhaps an unexpectedly interesting question. The first one is short. The second one might require a beverage and a place to put up your feet, but hey, it’s practically the weekend!
Short answer: yeah, you’re probably being too sensitive, but that’s OK. Share whatever you feel comfortable with. If Facebook creeps you out, don’t join. We can always email. But if you’re looking for an easy way to share family photos, you can’t beat Picasa albums — and you can always delete them later if you want.
Long answer: My feeling is well you’ll always have a copy of the photos you post — or you should — so if Facebook or Google goes out of business or crashes or whatever, you’ve got a backup. That’s just common sense and I imagine as a photographer you have quite a bit of hard drive space laying around so it’s not your concern.
Secondly, you are allowed to delete stuff , so if for whatever reason you want to delete your Google account you can. Just take down your photos before deleting your account. Facebook is worse about this, so for photos I’m a little more wary there. Google or Flickr don’t concern me as much. They are more explicit about not taking ownership of your content. Facebook actually states they CAN use your content without asking, so that’s where the concern lies. They are also quite sinister about allowing you to leave (they “helpfully” lock your profile in carbonite Han Solo style — if you ever rejoin, BAM it’s back up like you never left).
I’d imagine a site like 500px, that is tailored to photographers, would be respectful of your content. Often times you can poke around the site for more info about ownership and copyright stuff and it will be clear. Smaller companies usually try to set themselves apart by explicitly saying they’re better than evil corps like Facebook and Google.
Finally, for me, it is inevitable that my life content will be shared on the web because not only will it be more and more impractical for stuff to be on my local drive for various technological reasons (why keep stuff in one spot, when you can access from anywhere!), but also because I am just coming up in the world when that’s what’s being done. I see value in sharing stuff with family and friends and even strangers that outweighs the risks inherent in putting things out there. This is maybe because as a young person I have a desire to meet new friends and have networking to do — but it is also somewhat philosophical, in the sense that I feel there’s more to be gained (socially, mentally, maybe even spiritually) from being open than constantly stopping myself from taking advantage of this incredible opportunity just because something could “go wrong” (whatever that means).
I think you have to start to see that value before it makes sense to pile your life’s work into a piece of software that may not survive a year from now. 500px is a good example because it’s new and its future is far from certain. Some people might be devastated by that. Me, I would shrug and start over somewhere new because the sharing is what’s important, not the tool. There’s a real possibility you would be pleased and surprised with the amount of feedback and exposure you could get in a place like that, but you have to want it.
If you read this far, pour another drink, you deserve it.
Yesterday we learned that Google has purchased a social game maker, Slide. Slide makes things called SuperPoke!, SuperPoke! Pets and, my favorite, SuperPocus Academy of Magic (a virtual community for people who love all things fun and magical.)
To understand these parallel events, let’s think about Google’s trajectory into the web application sphere so far.
Things Google does well:
- Maps. Everyone knows “Google Maps is the best.” (Bonus link for Canadians who can’t see Hulu videos: Did Lazy Sunday pave the way for YouTube’s sale?)
- Reader. Bringing RSS to the rest since 2005.
- Gmail. Web-based email addresses you don’t have to be ashamed of.
- Docs (/Apps). My amateur hypothesis is that Google Docs works so well that Wave simply wasn’t necessary.
Things Google doesn’t do so well:
- Buzz. OK, Google Buzz might have some platform advantages over Twitter, but what it doesn’t have is coolness, easiness or a user base.
- Social Networking. Orkut totally rocks if you live in Brazil. If you don’t, well, you’re on Facebook.
- Profiles. Google has profiles? Yes. That is all.
- Things that aren’t utilities (except YouTube, which you can all argue is the grand exception. But remember, the YouTube offices are off-campus, likely for good reason)
The last is more general, but basically, Google hasn’t fared too well in the spaces that rely on factors other than the usefulness of a tool or programming interface. Google Maps “is the best” because not only is it easy to use, but the APIs allow manipulation and exploitation of their data for free. That is the advantage of being an advertising-driven business: driving traffic through tools, not locking content behind paywalls, is the way they make money.
But it is not, so to speak, the wave of the Internet Future. Everyone is talking about how social media is where it’s at, and will be going for a while. So Google needs a way to enter that space and make sure they don’t have a) another PR disaster that sank Buzz before it could really get going or b) an esoteric solution to a problem that no one had. OK, so Wave was trying to be “social” but it was like the difference between a cocktail party and dinner with the in-laws. Sure, you might get a job from your father-in-law if you play your cards right, but wouldn’t you rather be living it up across town with your friends?
Now we know that there is something called Google “Me” in the works that is supposed to buoy Google’s presence in social spaces. I suppose this is where the expertise and enthusiasm of the team behind SuperPoke! comes in. Like the folks at Zynga, Slide’s team is good at making cute stuff that can grab your attention and hook you in before you realize how much time you just spent clicking on sheep. (Of course, even the sheep have their critics.)
Wave is dead. Buzz is weak. Profiles are virtually unknown. But the pieces are in place. All Google needs now is a dose of aesthetics and personality before they launch another social project.
If everything “bad” is indeed good for you, what does this mean for the world of Libraries and/or Educational organizations?
I think the answer to this question is that libraries and information organizations of all kinds need to begin the agonizing process of embracing and encouraging what may be considered non-traditional behavior in their institutions. Google has long kept their employees happy by providing free food and unlimited ping pong (among other things). Even though that is not exactly the same idea, the point remains that sometimes encouraging playful and otherwise “unorthodox” behavior can be a boon to an organization instead of corrupting it as may be feared.
An obvious example of this in the library is the use of video games to drum up an audience for some programs. Recently, of course, there were some issues with librarians playing games at work, and the jury is still out on the acceptability of that situation, but the point remains that designing programs around video games for patrons does provide a certain incentive for an audience that may not normally be motivated to visit. Or, provides a new outlet for participation for active library users that are looking for something new to try.
Of course there are right ways and wrong ways to handle a situation that deals with issues like whether or not to play pool at the office, or spend a day filming a YouTube video about your library’s new Rock Band setup. Perhaps their hearts and thumbs were in the right place, or maybe that was indeed a waste of resources. Either way, I think the potential within the library to transform some bad things into good ones, and maybe sign up a few new library cards in the process.
I had hardly any experience with Google Docs until about a month ago when I was working on a project with a partner as part of a course. Aside from having convienient online storage, there isn’t much to be noted about cloud applications until you need to work collaboratively across a group.
Once you have that need, however, it is incredible the ease with which you can collaborate and produce a cohesive project among more than one person. Emailing a .doc file, tracking changes, and getting headaches are things that spawn a disjointed and often noticeably splintered project. Given the ability to look at the same document at the same time is something that greatly improves this process, but it doesn’t seem to be something that we are used to doing, and that makes it difficult to explain.
In my mind, it takes a good experience with a Google Doc project in order to add it to the list of things that actually increase your productivity, instead of staying on the other popular list: those things that seem like they might help but really just aren’t worth it in the end (cheap shot, sorry).
Can I foresee any issues between Google Docs and faculty on a campus? I guess I could, though once it was explained, I can’t come up with a valid reason against it. Obviously it increases the availability of student assignments on the web, though if the assignment was designed to be completed by a group, I don’t see any ethical issues with that at all. An individual who was misusing the online availability of the document by sharing it inappropriately with other peers may present a problem, but I don’t see this as a large enough issue to reduce adoption of Google Docs (or any online office suite) on campus.