When you work at Google, you get to spend 20% of your time doing something you think of yourself. Googlers Natalie Hammel and Lorraine Yurshansky decided to spend their time creating a web series about projects at Google. They call it “Nat & Lo’s 20% Project.”
Their videos are on YouTube. Watch the first one and you can subscribe to their YouTube channel and/or select the next video you want to watch. I suggest watching them all. You’ll get an inside view of some of the things that make Google so ubiquitous in your life.
Another reason to join Google +, if you haven’t already, is the new remote desktop feature available in Google Hangouts. This gives you the ability to work on someone else’s desktop to demonstrate or troubleshoot while you are chatting in a hangout.
The feature is listed under the Hangout Apps menu.
If you are teaching online classes using software that does not allow for remote desktop work, adding Google Hangouts to your repertoire of tools might be a good idea. There is existing software that gives you remote desktop access, of course. LogMeIn and GoToMyPC probably are the best known. Will Google + overwhelm them?
Google+ has been more popular as a topic of discussion this week than cute cat tricks. And that’s saying a lot. Most people are writing enthusiastic blog posts about how much they like Google+. See Bloggers React to Google Plus. A few folks are trying to point out the good and the bad.
I’m drawn to the parts of the story that are getting less attention right now. EXCLUSIVE: Google To Retire Blogger & Picasa Brands in Google+ Push being one. Blogger will be rebranded Google Blogs and Picasa will be rebranded Google Photos, according to Mashable. This brings Google’s blogging and the photo sharing services under Google+ social media control.
The initial reaction of many bloggers was that they like Google+ Circles because it allowed more privacy choices than Facebook. But having your Google profile made public whether you want it that way or not isn’t in keeping with that early reaction. Granted, most people have a public profile already, but some do not.
Shelley’s comment about gender was interesting too. We had a bit of back and forth about that on Twitter. @epersonae joined in to say that “other” was an option on gender in a Google Profile.
The gender issue may not interest you, but I’ve been thinking about it for a while: Have you thought about the gender choices on web forms? The mere fact that all-powerful Google includes ‘other’ as a gender option could have far-reaching implications in the world outside Google.
Developers are busy responding to Google+ with browser add-ons. Google has changed the Google bar. Google+ apps may proliferate the way Twitter apps have.
The point I’m trying to make is that something as significant as Google+ carries with it many ripple effects. Right now, people just want to get an invitation so they can try it out. But what will it mean in 6 months or a year? That’s what I’m wondering.
After three years in China, during which Google accepted the Chinese government’s demands for censored search, Google is changing its position. Yesterday on the official Google Blog in “A New Approach to China.”
We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
Google gave three reasons for the new approach.
Sophisticated cyber attacks on Google and 20 other companies coming from China.
Google has evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
Dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. Google is quick to point out that the accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users’ computers.
The post concluded with,
We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
Google did not say they were pulling out of China immediately. Only that they were going to stop censoring search results and would talk to the Chinese government about it to determine the next steps.
It’s instructive to look at the immediate response to the news. It was cheered and sneered, and overblown with disregard for what Google actually said. Many framed it as the honorable American corporation that promised to do no evil vs. the big bad government. Look at this tweet or this one or this one. Places like Buzzbox aggregated stories about the news, showing headlines ranging from “Furious Google throws down gauntlet to China over censorship” to “How Much Will it Cost Google to Exit China?” The New York Times, The Guardian, Business Week—everyone was scrambling to learn more and expand on the story with more information than the official blog post contained. In the absence of much more information, the initial reactions on Twitter, in particular, was to spin it and spin it without much checking back to what the official blog post actually said.
It’s instructive to realize that Google is so important in the world that any news from them, especially something as amazing as a corporation taking a stand on possible human rights violations, is recognized by everyone as a really big deal. Just how powerful is Google, anyway? What will China do?
Is there any possibility that any corporation interested in doing no evil could have as much influence on American politics as the currently influential profit-driven corporations who call the shots? Now that would be something to see.