Search engine leader Google has started offering a universal profile for any user of Google products, in its latest effort to become a social network.
However, the move is risky considering the feature tries to define who your friends are for you, using info Google has collected about from your usage of various services â€” without giving full control by who gets to learn what about you.
In short, that is not social networking. Itâ€™s creepy. Creepy, considering Google has so much knowledge, and is encroaching in other parts of our lives in a awkward way â€” when many of us it mainly as a great research tool.
The profile is currently available on Google Reader, Google Maps and Shared Stuff (more here). It publicly displays your name, your photo, and other data that you can edit.
The profile additionally includes a list of society gleaned from Google Talk and Gmail Chat. Separately, society you chat in Gmail are automatically added to your Google IM list â€” next your â€œfriendsâ€ list. Googleâ€™s calculation is that the public you chat with are your friends. (See screenshot below the editorial.)
These public can see more data about you, such as where you work.
Last week, for example, Reader came out with a new social feature which lets you see articles that other citizens are reading (see screenshot). whether you go to â€œsettingsâ€ in Reader, you can go on a â€œFriendsâ€ tab and see your Google profile as well as your Google-defined friends.
These society arenâ€™t necessarily my friends. For example, one Google â€œfriendâ€ is Erick Schonfeld, co-editor at Techcrunch (a rival blog). He and I have had an IM chat or two but I donâ€™t even really know the guy. At least for the duration being I donâ€™t want him to know what stories Iâ€™m sharing via Google Reader. Of course, I can remove him from being a Google friend. But, what whether I hadnâ€™t noticed he was a friend, in the first place?
Google is wrong to build in such assumptions about who is friends with whom.
The structure of relationships restricted in social networks is what makes them valuable â€” not just the mass of details. Google canâ€™t automate relationships. whether it wants to build social networking into its applications, it should focus on helping folks create those relationships.
Otherwise, the evidence suggests Google is headed for trouble. Even though many folks are becoming less concerned about online privacy, as illustrated in this new study by the Pew World Wide Web Project, 85 percent of adults still say it is as vital as ever to control who has access to your personal knowledge. The report notes that that statistic has held steady for many years.
Currently, the company doesnâ€™t clearly explain how it knows all that stuff about you in your Google profile, or why it connects you to convinced public. The only two Q&Aâ€™s currently in its FAQ are:
Who can see my Google Profile? Anyone can see your Google Profile. When you post publicly, your nickname (and not your full name) is shown to society viewing your composition.
Can citizens do a Google search for my name and find that profile? It depends. whether you put your full name in the â€œNicknameâ€ field, pages on which your profile appears may be returned as results by Google.
Wait, did I ask for a Google profile in the first place? Do I want citizens to see that data about me in Reader, Maps, or wherever? Why canâ€™t I just opt out of all of that?
Nevertheless, the company has apparently started implementing some of that info in Orkut, its social network that somehow got huge in Brazil and India but not many other places. whether you want to invite
Social networking is about giving users control by their relationships, then doing innovative things with that info.
With Facebook, for example, you get to decide who your friends are and what they know about you. Donâ€™t want to be friends with somebody? Donâ€™t accept their friend ask. Donâ€™t want to share all of your knowledge with them, put them on a â€œlimited profileâ€ setting, that restricts them to basic data about you.
The site carefully massages your sense of relationships. For example, only citizens in a physically oriented network of your choosing (such as â€œSilicon Valley,â€ â€œSan Franciscoâ€ or â€œOregon State Universityâ€) automatically get to see your full profile.
Its a difference of founding roots, and philosophy, perhaps. Myspace, the largest social network in the world, grew out of the LA cultural ferment. It started by bringing together demi-celebrities like goth bands, professional wrestlers and pornstars, and their fans. soon after it became a place for those fans to hang out with each other. Facebook grew out of college dorms. As Jamie Zawinski famously said: â€œYour â€˜use caseâ€™ should be, thereâ€™s a 22-year-old college student living in the dorms. How will that software get him laid?â€
Google, however, doesnâ€™t seem interested in helping 22 year old college students meet their idols or get laid. It just seems to want your input. Why?
It needs massive amounts of details to analyze, to help it deliver more contextually relevant info to you in search results and advertising. The blog Google Operating System has a post that goes into more detail on this.
society should be able to ask questions, and we should understand their meaning, or they should be able to talk about things at a conceptual level. We see a lot of concept-based questions â€” not about what words will seem on the page but more like â€œwhat is that about?â€ A lot of society will turn to things like the semantic Web as a possible reply to that. But what weâ€™re seeing actually is that with a lot of info, you ultimately see things that seem intelligent even though theyâ€™re done through brute force.
Peter Norvig, Googleâ€™s Director of Research, in that interview:
I have always believed (well, at least for the past 15 years) that the way to get better understanding of text is through statistics rather than through hand-crafted grammars and lexicons. The statistical approach is cheaper, faster, more robust, easier to internationalize, and so far more effective.
Dear Google: You may be the best engineers in the world, but it will take a feat of social engineering for your social networking efforts to work. Please be more sensitive.
[Reader,] I know what youâ€™re thinking: â€œAndy, whatâ€™s the big deal? that is info that youâ€™re already sharing anyway!â€ I know, and Iâ€™m really not looking to opt-outâ€¦.yet! But, do you know what Google has planned for Google Profiles or shared items? Do any of us know? All I know is that itâ€™s a little worrying that a company that has access to all of my input, wonâ€™t give me an off switch. [ Give it another ten years, and that is what will play outâ€¦
Andy: Google, Iâ€™d like to stop sharing my knowledge with the world.
Google: Iâ€™m afraid I canâ€™t let you do that, Andy.
Original post by Eric EldonNo comments
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