I've been thinking about Google lately (big surprise, I talk about Google a lot, but moreso of late for multiple reasons). Google's gotten a lot of shit about Buzz today because of the distribution e-mail about the class-action suit regarding privacy complaints. Google also gets complaints about just about everything else.
This is partially, I think, because people fear it. Google is so damn public. It's everywhere. You don't Ask Jeeves anymore. You don't Yahoo! Search. You Google it. I cringe when I hear people say they'll Mapquest something.
I'm a Google whore, just like some people are Apple whores, even though some of Google's policies aren't the ones I like - like the CEO not supporting nuclear power, which is a disappointment to me, and support for Obama (sorry. He's not my fave.). There are a few good reasons for this.
One: We (appear to) share the same opinions about privacy. The internet doesn't have privacy like people expect. If you are on the internet, it won't take someone more than a ten dollar charge or a good hacker to find out your shoe size, address, favorite food, and marital status. Hell, half of that can be found by going on Facebook, or just searching for your name.
If you want privacy, keep it offline. If you're doing something so shameful and harmful you'd be fired, ostracized, or possibly disowned for, maybe you shouldn't be doing it.
Two: Everything is in one place. My calendar. My twitter and Facebook feeds (on Buzz, which people think is useless). My chat access (both video and text). My news feeds. My blog. Phone numbers. A freakin' PHONE IN MY E-MAIL, which is awesome, even though I've not used it just yet. Document editing. Map searches. Free books! I can live through Google. I go outside of Google mostly because other people haven't integrated. I do all of these things through Google because it fits me, and I understand it doesn't fit everyone else, but damn! What a way to do things - I don't even have to venture outside of one website to do five different things.
Three: It's easy. I don't have to try hard to learn how to do things. I'm one of those people who can take a lot of practice to get used to something, but with Google it's not as hard because most of it is stupid-proof. That's handy.
On the downside, Google needs to work on some of its big mistakes, some of which happen to be the same as the good things, like Privacy.
There needs to be an up front opt-out before big releases - the release of private info with Buzz, no matter how much people should have kept things offline before, should have never happened. It was a simple mistake, but it ended up having larger consequences.
Google Voice was jacked a day or so ago with calls not going through. Big companies having downtime with tech products is a big bad, and everyone makes mistakes, but this is going to be a huge focus for the future. Google always needs to watch this kind of thing, and be prepared to deal with the fallout. Tech blogs go NUTS for any chance to jump on big entities, and Google is huge, so any opportunity to criticize is one that they'll nearly wet themselves over.
Not beta-testing products enough is a problem too - like Wave. I liked Wave, but it wasn't for everyone, and should have been marketed as a business solution and had a small beta testing group. Let people get a taste, learn how to use it, rave about it, then release it. It appeared to be aimed more towards regular consumers, not business collaborators. The biggest mistake with Wave, though, IMO, is not putting it in the top bar that's on every Google page or putting it in the sidebar in Gmail, like Buzz. It was so easy to forget, and people didn't get to do collaboration because people didn't keep going back. When there's the name constantly reminding you, or a little "Unread" number, it draws you back, at the very least to make the damn thing stop telling you that you have 100 unread messages.
I know I should be talking about 2010 elections, but this is what's on my mind, and goodness knows I can't keep what is in my mind from being shared.
Now, to my final point.
Go on Google. Google me. See what you find, and share it in the comments, along with your thoughts - do the results change your opinion about me? Do you worry that someone could find the same thing about you?