Don't Be Evil = Be Trustworthy

After a hard disk upgrade last week, I took a leaf out of Jon Udell's blog and started routing all my mail through Gmail. It's a nice solution, it allows me to funnel all my email from sexdecillion different accounts into a single box. It lets me send from my own domain name, and I trust that Google will let me export my archives if ever want to switch to a different service. Trust is an important word for Google. You can understand nearly everything Google does by reference to that single word.


Google must have been watching the scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise walks into 'The Gap' and his eyes are recognized by the computer system. It greets him 'personally' and has recommendations for him. There's a similar scene in Total Recall, where a billboard recognizes Arnold Schwarzenegger and presents personalized adverts. I think that's the end in a game that's just beginning now. It starts with personalized ads on the web and with email, moves onto personalized ads in the living room, and from there onto personalized ads in public spaces. None of these steps can be forced though, they are all permission based, all depend on trust.

Part of this trust must also come from the fact that they have two postgraduates running the show, rather than career CEOs

Consider Google's recent refusal to hand over information on searches to the Department of Justice. I trust a company that takes privacy that seriously. Consider Google's recent entry into China. I trust a company that levels with me if it is censoring my search results. (Then I can go and try to use the real Google China search engine). This is all in marked contrast to Yahoo! who seem to be falling over themselves to send search results to the DOJ and seem to have a fax hotline to Beijing to send the names of dissident journalists. (They have to use fax, as e-mail wouldn't get through the firewall y'see).

So I've taken the first step along the Google Web 2.0 offering because I believe they're trustworthy. Part of this trust must also come from the fact that they have two postgraduates running the show, rather than career CEOs. Google is just not your typical corporate citizen.


Let me balance all this a bit with some of my other experiences of Google this week so that you'll know I'm not just some zealous Google fanboy. I installed the 'Google Pack' to ease the burden of constantly updating software. This install was on a fresh Windows XP machine. Google Earth didn't work at all. Google Toolbar for Firefox cause it to freeze for half a second every two seconds. It also installed Google Desktop, but I didn't really know what that was doing, and then the EFF told me it was sending my documents to Google so I shut that down double time. The other applications were mostly other companies applications. I conclude that Google isn't much good at desktop software no matter how many Ph.Ds they've got.

I also tried to subscribe to Google Analytics to try it with Flash and to see the level of integration with Google Adwords which I also use. It seems like it's very oversubscribed, with nobody new being taken on since the middle of January.

Posted by Alexander at February 13, 2006 10:22 AM

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You have a good point and I agree it's obvious that, by default, information will spill out and around Google.
China is a major contributor to our economy and we the public forget to care that the citizens there are
living under totalitarian rulers.
And I think Google and the others should make their positions clearly and very loudly to the "free world" about the importance of free access to information.
It's not just about Google and China. It's also about keeping an eye on Google as it keeps it's eye on us. I think the Google search engine is fantastic and I use it all day.
Owen Google Censorship Protest Blog

Posted by: gaaagle at February 28, 2006 07:04 PM