social media watch

Chocolate Google+ Pages Notwithstanding, Not Everyone's Enamored of G+

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 16, 2012 10:57 AM

Google+ may inspire such fits of creativity as the chocolate Google+ page that Cadbury UK created (above) to thank its 500,000 G+ followers, but it isn't inspiring all Googlers, past or present.

While disgruntled Goldman Sachs exec Greg Smith became a media sensation after he published his resignation letter in the New York Times this week, a former Googler named James Whittaker, who quit in February to return to Microsoft (from whence he came), blasted Google for letting Google+ take over its business focus (and sanity, he argues).

In a personal blog post entitled "Why I left Google," Whittaker wrote that “The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus" — for which he blames the company's obsession with Google+.

Whittaker, who joined Google in 2009, recasts his the shift in corporate ethos as "Before Google+" and "After," writing that Google took Facebook’s rising leaderboard on personal information about consumers personally and “Larry Page himself assumed command to right this wrong. Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+… Google declared that “sharing is broken on the web” and nothing but the full force of our collective minds around Google+ could fix it.” 

In support of such alleged Page-think, “Like it or not, Google is running a business,” and “has done a lot of good for the social-networking world” notes eWeek.

The latest Pew Internet and American Life Project’s study reports that Google remains the most popular search engine by a wide margin, (83%), even as American’s ambivalence towards search engines and online privacy remains high. “Users are more satisfied than ever with the quality of search results—but many are anxious about the collection of personal information by search engines and other websites.” 

Pew researcher Kristen Purcell, the study's co-author, observed to The Atlantic, "When they are using these tools, most people tell us they do not want to worry about where information about that behavior is going and how it is being used." 

The Atlantic adds: “Most of us, as Purcell suggests, don't actually want to have to think about the why and the where and the how of the whole thing. We don't really want to know the magician's tricks.” 

In Google’s latest bag of tricks are imminent changes to its current keyword-search model by adding ‘semantic search,’ which will render it more like "how humans understand the world," commented Amit Singhal, a Google search executive, to the Wall Street Journal, “noting that for many searches today, "we cross our fingers and hope there's a Web page out there with the answer." Google is undergoing a years-long process to enter the "next generation of search," even as it comes under increasing scrutiny for tracking users and its privacy policy.

It’s a much bigger battle than search, as the stakes for money, consumers, innovation and dominance in the increasingly competitive digital landscape gets tougher; and for Google's own image and reputation.

"Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn't invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google's party became the elephant in the room," wrote former Googler Whittaker.

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