Garin Online

Google’s Corporate Transparency

April 20, 2010
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Google has taken the next step towards corporate and government transparency by releasing the number of times that national governments have requested data and requested the removal of data from the web giant. The stats listed below represent a six month period from July to November 2009. It equates to about 20 requests per day in the US, which came up second to Brazil, based on the popularity of Google’s social networking site, Orkut.

I like the presence of this website, as it shows that Google is really working towards making these governmental request stats available to all users. It goes far and beyond what other companies provide. And they are still working to provide more statistics to the public, but are trying to put them into meaningful numbers prior to release.

The stats don’t list any sort of details about each request, and I am pretty sure that is some of the information that Google is trying to put together for future updates. And these numbers only reflect criminal investigations, and not national security issues that companies are not legally allowed to release.

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No Longer David v. Goliath

April 18, 2010
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It can get confusing out in the tech world, what company owns and runs what products and what options consumers have for certain product categories. I found this chart by Gizmodo that tries and mildly succeeds at clarifying the situation. However, it does shows how confusing it really is because these three power companies that are really competing for the same exact audience with very similar products in the same product categories.

I also think it’s funny that the only Microsoft product I use on this chart is MS Office, and at the same time I use Google Docs.


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Italy Say What?

February 24, 2010
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Italy is the dream vacation for many Americans, and while most major corporations aren’t headquartered there, they all operate there. Today, Italian judged found three Google executives guilty of violating the privacy of a Italian student, when a video of him was posted to Google video and not taken down for two months.

While there are privacy laws in America that will prevent things like this from happening, this is unheard of even in Italy. As you can imagine, Google has come out vehemently against the decision. They brought to attention that as soon as the video was brought to Google’s attention it was released. Google also assisted the authorities in tracking down the perpetrators. Google released a statement on the situation.

“European Union law was drafted specifically to give hosting providers a safe harbor from liability so long as they remove illegal content once they are notified of its existence. The belief, rightly in our opinion, was that a notice and take down regime of this kind would help creativity flourish and support free speech while protecting personal privacy. If that principle is swept aside and sites like Blogger, YouTube and indeed every social network and any community bulletin board, are held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them – every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video – then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear.”

All first time offenders in Italy with a sentence of three years or less will not serve jail time, but regardless, Google will appeal the decision.


Case 2: Google’s Soul For Sale

February 24, 2010
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During the 1990s, Microsoft was the evil corporation of computing, trying to tie together a litany of shabby software products including Internet Explorer, thus making it impossible for any other companies to move in to the industry. However, in the last 10 years, Apple and Google have made serious strides gaining not just market share, but mind share as well. Apple with computing and hardware, Google with software programs. And in the last 10 years, these companies have taken on the image of fighting the big guy, David v. Goliath, Rudy just trying to make a tackle (more Google, Apple really already had this brand image). But with the release of Google Buzz, some people (I’m not really sure how many) are starting to this that Google is the big bad wolf that needs to be escaped from. But in reality, is it true?

I recently found on Gizmodo a step-by-step manual on how to take your life out of the hands of Google. Let me tell you, after reading through it, it would not be easy for me to rid myself of all of my Google ties. Not only do I use Gmail, but I use Wave, Google search, Chrome, Docs, Chat, and on occasion, Google Reader. That list is not exclusive, I will still actively search out any new product that Google releases. But the real question is, do I want to take away all of my services from Google? One of the biggest issues that consumers are dealing with right now is the privacy issue.

Google specializes in targeting advertising. By tracking your searches, just like Facebook tracks your posted information, Google can better feed you ads that relate closer to you.

The ad in the picture above is for ESPN, which not only do I have bookmarked, but I also sports in many of my e-mails. While this would bother a lot of people, thinking that it hits a little too close to home, I am not one of those people. I know the risks of having information online, and I’m of a firm belief that if I don’t want someone to know something about me, I will not post it or discuss it online.

The most backlash with Google Buzz is coming from the automatic tracking that Google added so you have a group of friends to start with, instead of having to search them all down. However, they created this list from people you contact with frequently in your contacts, which is a list that could include bosses, lawyers, ex-significant others and many other that you do not want being able to see any of your updates.

But Google Buzz cannot be the only cause of the public backlash against Google, can it? Google gave us Gmail, which allowed us to escape from the amateurish e-mail clients of Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL. Google gave us Docs, the first well publicized, well constructed online document creation program. But most of all, they gave us Google searches. Think back to the days before Google search. What was available? Ask Jeeves? Yahoo? Google redefined the search industry and have became the market leader because it is well deserved.

These search engines might be a thing of the past, however, Microsoft has thrown their gauntlets into the search engine industry with the ambitious release of Bing. Bing is not just another search engine, it is a redefinition on the common search, and gives the user a very different experience than does Google.

While Google will give you all web-pages, images, news articles and other such information having to do with any specific search, Bing goes a different route. They will still provide you with the same information, however, they will summarize basic information and display it for the user on the front page. Sort of like a Wiki Junior.

So while there are modern options from switching from Google platforms, the question is still there. Why do it? I believe that it all comes down to how much information are you willing to let one company not only know about you, but control. I know that by using as many Google products as I do, they could paint a very realistic picture of who I am. Every time you sign up for a company’s website you submit information. And with Google products, most of the time it’s not just submitting entry information, but the sending and receiving of messages with their products by E-mails, searches, documents, etc.

Until the release of Google Buzz, Google had a near spotless brand image and no signs of an evil corporation. But by looking in the news lately, that’s have to have changed, right? I mean, start angering your customers and your going to get a lot of negative PR. But what recourse is the right recourse? In the comments section of the article I discussed earlier, on how to delete Google from your life, a few consumers are discussing what they think on the subject.

“Why would I ditch a great service?” Never been more simple to some I guess. Until Google starts to seriously inconvenience my life, I will continue to use Google products. If I start to worry about online privacy more than I currently do, I think Facebook with be my first stop. Google may sell certain information to create targeted ads, but Facebook has more information publicly listed than I will ever disclose on any of my Google accounts. But I still easily found this online, but I just think this is pretty funny. Enjoy.


Google Buzz: What Is This?

February 12, 2010
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So what exactly is this? A new social feature to add to Gmail? Googles attempt at a social networking platform to compete with the likes of Facebook?

Or is it a failure on all fronts. Google, usually an innovator when it comes to online software, has taken itself into the social networking war with its new “Buzz”. But because this is a brand new program, Google will be working with it and improving it over the next few years extensively. Gmail itself just recently lost its “Beta” tag after several years in operation.

Already Google is looking to improve Buzz, purchasing Aardvark for $50m. Aardvark is a website that gives you quick quality answers from people whose profiles are similar to yours. You can submit a question via e-mail or IM and the program scans the profiles of people who claim to have knowledge of that subject.

Some stats posted by Techcrunch:

-87.7% of questions submitted were answered, and nearly 60% of them were answered within 10 minutes.  The median answering time was 6 minutes and 37 seconds, with the average question receiving two answers.

-As of October 2009, Aardvark had 90,361 users, of whom 55.9% had created content (asked or answered a question). The site’s average query volume was 3,167.2 questions per day, with the median active user asking 3.1 questions per month. Interestingly, mobile users are more active than desktop users.

-98.1% of questions asked on Aardvark were unique, compared with between 57 and 63% on traditional search engines.

Aardvark will be a very cool feature to add to Google Buzz, and if they continue to add these interesting programs to it, than Buzz may be a thing I would actually use in the future. However, that is the future. As of now, Google Buzz seems like the addition of Twitter to Gmail. And I stopped using Twitter a long time ago because what Shaq and MC Hammer are doing with their spare time interests me little. What I can see Google doing is integrating Google Wave into this and making this not just a social network, but making it a realtime work network as well.

Here is a video about Google Buzz if you are further interested.


Search On

February 7, 2010
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The following are the three best ads, deemed by me, during the Superbowl. In order of favorite from 1-3. Enjoy.

1.

This is the first commercial I have ever seen for Google, and that is because they have never spent heavily on advertising for their search engine with commercials. Google owned almost a complete marker share in the search engine industry until the introduction of Bing. And while I still don’t know a single person who would use Bing over Google, they got 10m hits last month. But this commercial was beautiful, illustrating perfectly the essence that is Google. Being able to find anything and telling a story in the process. I watched the Superbowl with a big group at a friends apartment and when the copy “Assemble a crib” came up, “Awww” was all you could hear. That’s the power of advertising, turning a search engine into a heart warming story. Amazing.

2.

Doritos flooded this Superbowl with ads, which annoying to me, were all submitted by fans of the brand. While that’s impressive in the sense you can get interested spectators to submit ads, it takes away work from the professionals who could have come up with something just as good I’m sure. But alas, I did love this ad. It’s simple and America seems to love kids who take control. And oh yeah, hysterically funny.

3.

This ad spoke so simply to its targeted demo, and so effectively. What do men have? Get up, go to work, sit through work, come home, do chores. For men who didn’t end up doing what they really wanted to do, this is the car for you. A way to keep your manliness. After watching that commercial, I really do want one of the cars. I’m pretty resilient to advertising being in the industry myself, but all these ads were extremely impressive.


Consumer Generated Merchandise

February 2, 2010
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A set of twelve statuettes of cute androids have been released by artist Andrew Bell in collaboration with Goggle. These statuettes come in a very attractive box that bears the clean style of design that comes with most Apple products. These 3″ androids are extremely attractive not just to android and google product users, but to consumers loyal to other brand users. I personally am a loyal Apple product user, but I sort of want a few android statues for my desk at home.

Consumer generated merchandise is a great indication of a brands health. No one creates figurines for a brand that no one can identify with. The fact that an artist creates statues for a brand shows a completely different level of brand loyalty. Unprompted and unpaid by Goggle, an independent artist took it upon himself to create a set statues depicting the brand. I fool around with creating posters for brands that I have a strong connection with. If I ever like one enough, I’ll post it here. There are a lot of examples, but a few that pop right to my mind.

With Barack Obama in the 2008 election, dozens of artists and designers created posters, stickers, and tons of other types of media for Brand Obama. The most noticed were the posters by famous graphic designer Shepard Fairy, a personal favorite of mine. He created the “Yes We Can” posters to promote Obama, and than once the election was finished, the “Yes We Did” posters. But posters were not the only thing generated by Fairy, but over a dozen artists used their skills to create works for the future President. One of the productions that stood out above all others was the music video featuring the Black Eyed Peas and got over 20m views.


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