Install Theme

Posts tagged with ‘google ’

The advance of information technology epitomized by Google heralds the death of privacy for most people and shifts the world toward authoritarianism.

There used to be all sorts of criticisms of the old “culture industries” like Hollywood and the top 40, which entertained us with stories or songs that always ended on an upbeat note, no matter how false. But at least the culture industries went to the bother of entertaining us. Their replacements don’t even bother. They expect us to entertain each other, and pay a tax for it. Facebook or Google’s YouTube are not the culture industries so much as the vulture industries, taking an information surcharge from us while we amuse each other, and selling us to advertisers. Like do-it-yourself commercial TV.

These are all elements of what I call the “spectacle of disintegration”. The old spectacle of television and radio papered the world with images of what the lovely soul of the commodity was supposed to look like. We were at least still free to daydream while we sat idly watching.

But in the spectacle of disintegration, all that breaks apart. The big screen decays into so many little screens. Our leisure time is now to be spent producing information for the vulture industries of Google and co, in an unequal exchange of information. In exchange for the poll tax of personal data, we get to watch each other’s cat videos, while Google becomes some new version of the state, presiding over all our bitty lives, master of all our data, in aggregate.

Like any state, Google has its patriots. But there are also those who think this latest version of the spectacle offers some quirky avenues for having fun at its expense. Its time for a certain opacity, a certain glamour of obscurity. Not all the information we offer up has to be even remotely true.

There’s nothing stupid about seeing Google being pitted “versus” other companies. They want everything; their ambition is boundless.

John Gruber, ‘Google Versus

(Source: justinpickard)

Building From The Inside Out

Google is building a new Googleplex, and worked bottom-up, crunching numbers to figure out what might work best.

image

Paul Goldberger, Exclusive Preview: Google’s New Built-from-Scratch Googleplex

What is really striking about this project, however, isn’t what the architecture will look like, about which renderings can show only so much anyway. It’s the way in which Google decided what it wanted and how it conveyed this to its architects. Google is, as just about everyone in the world now knows, the most voracious accumulator of data on the planet. When it decided to build a building, it did what it did best, which was to gather data. Google studied, and tried to quantify, everything about how its employees work, about what kind of spaces they wanted, about how much it mattered for certain groups to be near certain other groups, and so forth.

The layout of bent rectangles, then, emerged out of the company’s insistence on a floor plan that would maximize what Radcliffe called “casual collisions of the work force.” No employee in the 1.1-million-square-foot complex will be more than a two-and-a-half-minute walk from any other, according to Radcliffe. “You can’t schedule innovation,” he said. “We want to create opportunities for people to have ideas and be able to turn to others right there and say, ‘What do you think of this?’”

What may be most significant is that the company’s research led to a design that isn’t substantially different from the existing Google buildings, just more so. The older buildings have a mix of private, quiet work spaces (though no private offices) and social and communal work spaces; so will the new one. The older buildings are full of cafés; the new complex will be, too. Radcliffe said that “the cafés were validated” in Google’s studies, as if anyone were surprised. The existing buildings have a relaxed and casual, even whimsical, quality to their interiors, as if to say that pleasure is a part of efficiency; I’m not sure how Google quantifies this except by seeing how many workers like it, but here, too, the plan is to continue on the same track, even if the new buildings aren’t likely to feel quite as improvised. And as the existing buildings have been retrofitted to conserve energy, the new ones will be even greener. And so on.

A lot of this seems like a statement of the obvious, but then again, lots of data is. And architecture, which is so often form-driven, doesn’t necessarily suffer from a bit more attention to factors other than shapes. “We started not with an architectural vision but with a vision of the work experience,” Radcliffe said. “And so we designed this from the inside out.”

Twisty buildings that subtly shape the contours of sociality? It will be interesting to hear if Google measures later on to see if they can actually influence coincidensity — the likelihood of serenditity — this way. 

Note that I am not an advocate of isolated ‘plexes like these, designed almost without regard for the surrounds except as a backdrop to be viewed out the windows. It would have been much more radical for Google to build in an integrated way in a more urban space, and reject the strip mall sprawl that is inherent in this design.

Danny Sullivan gets to the heart of Facebook’s Graph Search: it depends on how connected you are, and who you are connected to.

Danny Sullivan, How The New Facebook Search Is Different & Unique From Google Search

When I’ve watched Facebook show me demos of Facebook Graph Search, and do some of the example searches I’ve itemized above, it’s impressive. But it’s also impressive because it’s a person from Facebook who makes heavy use on Facebook to connect to things and who is in turn tapping into the knowledge of many other Facebookers who are similarly hyper-connected. They are not, in a word, normal.

Consider me. Not only have I not liked my electrician, my plumber, my dentist, my doctor or my tax person on Facebook but I don’t even know if they have Facebook pages. I have nothing to offer to my Facebook friends in this regard.

Similarly, despite the huge number of books I read through my Kindle, I never go to like those books on Facebook, so books I love are more or less invisible on Facebook.

Facebook itself understands this challenge, but it’s hoping the promise of what search can provide will help encourage people to build the connections they may lack now.

“There are now new reasons to make these connections. We’re hoping the existence of that will encourage it,” said Tom Stocky, director of product management at Facebook, who has worked closely on the Facebook search product. “But absolutely, early on, that [your degree of connectedness] will make the experience you have with this vary.”

There is a problem here. People are generally *not* motivated to do things now that could prove useful in the future only if everyone else does it too. Generally, people are motivated by immediate needs, like figuring out where to have lunch, today. 

I like the weaker argument, that Facebook’s new search will make the Facebook experience slightly better — like allowing you to find all the pictures you’ve liked — instead of it becoming the social era replacement for Google search.  

Search engines have long been judges of what is important; now they are also arbiters of the truth.

Danny Hillis, The Opinions Of Search Engines (via Edge.org)

Hillis makes the case that adding by semantic knowledge into search Google and others are inherently and inescapably advancing a worldview, like the editor of a magazine. 


Google teams up with New York City to offer free Wi-Fi in Chelsea neighborhood - Ben Popper via Verge
Google has teamed up with city government and the Chelsea Improvement Project, a local New York City non-profit, to provide free Wi-Fi to the hundreds of thousands of residents and tourists who travel through this lower Manhattan neighborhood each year. Chelsea is best known as a chic district, home to Google’s major NYC offices, the Apple store, and numerous high-end shops, but also contains a large number of low-income housing projects and public schools.

I want to start a non-profit in Beacon just so Google will provide us with free wifi.

Google teams up with New York City to offer free Wi-Fi in Chelsea neighborhood - Ben Popper via Verge

Google has teamed up with city government and the Chelsea Improvement Project, a local New York City non-profit, to provide free Wi-Fi to the hundreds of thousands of residents and tourists who travel through this lower Manhattan neighborhood each year. Chelsea is best known as a chic district, home to Google’s major NYC offices, the Apple store, and numerous high-end shops, but also contains a large number of low-income housing projects and public schools.

I want to start a non-profit in Beacon just so Google will provide us with free wifi.

(via thisistheverge)

Google Alerts From Reading My Email: Next Step, Calendar Integration?

I was looking at a Google search result and I saw this alert pop up, regarding a flight:

image

I clicked on it and saw a second search page, where the search query was ‘My Flights’, and this popped to the top:

image

And the link to the confirmation email — from which the information had been pulled — was offered up.

So, I can see that Google could build a search-based competitor to TripIt relatively easy. Instead of having to forward travel confirmations from airlines, hotels, etc. to TripIt, Google could simply index them in a smart way. And Google could correlate trips with travel dates on my Google calendar. So imagine if I had a trip to Southern California on calendar as a multiday event, Google could have pulled hotel and other information together with the two flights there and back, and used the name of the event as a tag, or folder, and the calendar event could have collated all the travel information together automatically.

Look out, TripIt!

Google Rolls Out New Gmail Search

I saw a new option pop up in Gmail today, and I have opted into a field trial of a new Gmail search. Now Google will show relavant files in Google Drive and Google Calendar along with emails when searching in Gmail. Also, emails and Google Drive files  will show up in Google Searches.

Touchscreen Chrome OS hybrid tablet/laptop coming soon? - Richi Jennings →

Jennings pulls together many rumors pointing toward a touchscreen Chrome OS hybrid tablet/laptop designed and developed by Google. 

If the Android/iOS one-two punch is a precedent, the emergence of a Chrome OS laptop/tablet is more of a threat to Microsoft’s push on Surface than Apple. And the Surface looks like it’s heading nowhere, according to Piper Jaffray’s Black Friday stats.