☞ Who’s On Your Side?

  • I’m not sure what offends me most about Google’s idiotic approach here; the patronising parochialism that says they are the arbiters of what a “real” name is and how it’s constructed, the heavy-handed use of Terms of Service to bully individuals, the disregard for the established privacy strategies of so many people or the “talk to the hand” strategy when it’s all questioned.
    Whichever it is, it’s offensive and I have no idea why the anonymous person who has decided to pick this fight and call in air-cover to protect them is being allowed to burn Google’s karma by being digital rednecks.
  • It’s no surprise to see proof that the USA was heavily engaged in diplomacy on behalf of one of its richest corporations, and the documents certainly have the ring of truth.
  • This new Ward Cunningham project looks both fascinating and brilliant. For those who were looking at what “innovation” might mean today, look here.

5 Responses

  1. It’s not obvious to me that G is being idiotic with real names. There are plenty of good reasons why they might be doing this:

    – Identity. If they can pull off an equivalent to passport.net, and get a bunch of major web properties signed up to using them as the identity services they’ll be sitting pretty. It also opens up all sort of new business possibilities for them, thinking banking, credit cards, etc.
    – Targeting. Huge number of users are up for handing over their demographic info, for very little cost. They can use that data to command higher prices for targeted ads.

    Eric Schmidt says all this in his (hard to watch) MacTaggart lecture (http://gawker.com/5835640/watch-google-describe-how-it-can-exploit-your-name) they’re being pretty open about it.

    Obviously this isn’t a good thing. Presumably they feel they have enough karma to burn on this, or that they are bring enough to the service to sugarcoat the (horse) pill.

    So, yes, it’s offensive, but it’s far from idiotic.

    • Hi Jon! What I think is idiotic is that Google can achieve all those ends (which I agree are probably their goal) without needing to tell the Chinese they don’t have real names or to tell Violet Blue her name is fake or engage in all the other parochial, elitist, misogynistic acts they’ve been performing.

      They could build their identity system without being digital rednecks; I can’t understand why such intelligent people can’t see that.

      • My conclusion is that this isn’t malice, but incompetence. They rolled the thing out with an incomplete idea of what it would really mean to judge a ‘real name’. The simple fact is that there is more variation in legal names than they were prepared to deal with – their world view was too narrow.

        The idea that you can eyeball a name, judge it to made up and demand official ID is probably a step further down the wrong path, but it seems they are committed, come what may.

        The pseudonym part of this is a different battle. The aesthetic point that they made about wanting to avoid ‘topman6543’, is all well and good, as far as it goes. However, they’ve picked a tough row to hoe. There a lot of oldskool net users who live by usernames. This is probably the first time that G isn’t pandering to them, and making it clear that they can only play on its terms.

        My feeling is the harder they screw this thing the sooner someone will come along with an alternative to them… and it feels about time.

  2. I buy the parochial and elitist accusations, but can you fill me in on how this is misogynistic “woman hating”, rather than “indifferent to impacts their actions may have on women”?

    • I do think it’s probably indifference or ignorance that’s the driver, but a posting caught my eye that suggested the effects on women (and LGBT) are probably greater and hence my (maybe OTT) use of misogynistic.

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