If you read this blog regularly, for one, why? I’ve been over at the Noisecast for weeks, there’s like nothing here. Also, you might remember back in February when Glenn Beck did that stupid thing that Glenn Beck does: talk about things. Mr. Beck made the super scary point that sometimes Google has dealings with government organizations. Like when they started dealing with the NSA after China hacked their servers. It is creepy that Google is cooperating with government organizations that want to ensure that America’s technological infrastructure is secure. Right? Right.
Well, there was something else that Google does that Glenn Beck mentioned. Google sometimes does work with the NGA. What is the NGA? The NGA, or the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, is a government organization that deals in creating maps and whatnot for the government. Sounds scary! Is this, like, a super creepy map of Americans’ homes?! Is it something that…um…might…..watch people?! I don’t know! It sounds scary!
Well, I would like to apologize to the readers of Autistic Disdain. Back in February, I naively implied that whatever Google was doing could be something innocent:
The NGA (formerly known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, if that tells you anything) basically deals with high-tech maps. Google’s involvement with the NGA could be as simple as building tools and systems to manage map/surveillance data to aid the military.
Well, it turns out, I was wrong. The NGA wasn’t just responsible for “helping the military”. It turns out, they were instrumental in taking out the world’s most-wanted terrorist. I mean, sure, I suppose that infiltrating the compound that houses the man most wanted by the international community technically qualifies as “aiding the military”…..in the same way that John McClane “aided” the police in any given Die Hard movie, or the way auto-tune “aids” basically every pop singer ever. So, I guess I was right.
Now, some might say “To give Google credit is inappropriate! There were plenty of different people and organizations, all the way from the leadership in the Obama administration to Seal Team Six on the ground, to the teams of agents that watched the compound for months gathering intel! You can’t just say that one private company that did some software work for one agency gets all the credit!” A fair point, reasonable reader!
To which I will reply: Glenn Beck said so. Google is “in bed” with the U.S. government. And the U.S. government just took out Osama bin Laden.
[via The Atlantic]
When Google isn’t overthrowing middle eastern governments, sometimes they hang out in Spain. And sometimes they get together which a bunch of other tech companies in Spain to show off stuff. And sometimes, they bring their giant tube slide with them.
For those who are unaware, Google is a software company. They’re not the owner of Chuck E. Cheese, as many at the Mobile World Conference have been led to believe. It was the open bar that gave it away.
When Google wasn’t displaying the myriad of Android devices on Dr. Suess’s counter, they were dressing up giant Android statues. Of course, if none of those costumes fit your taste, you could create your own. A little pink Android in high heels with her hair done? Sign me up!*
I haven’t been to many (any) trade shows, but if this is the kind of stuff that giant software companies are putting out as they try to push a software platform and maintain the ability to be taken seriously….I really want to go. Bad.
Wait, seriously? Video game demos?! *swoon*
*– Holy crap, I need therapy.
Let me come out right and say two things: 1.) This is probably going to be less funny than my usual articles. 2.) I can’t stand Glenn Beck. At all. In the slightest. I don’t typically get involved too much in televised news. I find it much easier to read my news online from a variety of sources. Then when I hear something that doesn’t quite add up, I just press Ctrl-T, start typing, and before long Google will have led me to a resource of information that helps me make sense of the inane, childish, vague, fear/anger-mongering bullshit I’ve just heard. Except, this time, according to Glenn Beck, that will lead me to ruin.
Let’s be honest. Glenn Beck is a conspiracy nut. He never learned to grasp the difference between correlation and causation. As a “self-educated” man, he has hoarded information, but never had any proper training on how to use it. Reducto ad absurdum. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Straw man. These words are gibberish to Glenn Beck. Which is why “Google sometimes talks to the government” is tantamount to “Google is in bed with the government“.
The video begins with Egypt, as most news shows do lately. He begins by stating that the outcome of these protests is going to be determined by the people who are the best organized. And who organized these Egyptian protests? Why, it’s none other than Wael Ghonim, a Google executive. “Google executive” here meaning “Head of Marketing of Google Middle East and North Africa“. Not someone in Mountain View. Just a marketing guy stationed in Dubai. And, it’s important to note, this guy left Dubai and went to Egypt to organize these protests without Google’s knowledge or permission. According to Ghonim, he actually “tricked” Google into letting him return to Egypt by citing a “personal problem”.
Around one minute and twenty-two seconds into this video, Glenn makes the jump from “someone who works for Google was involved in the Egyptian protests” to “Google is involved in government overthrows”. The first person involved took action that was done without Google’s recommendation, approval, or even knowledge, as stated before, and the second executive that’s involved? We never even hear his name. Clearly Glenn doesn’t think that this person is as worthy of the attention. Given that, in this context, even Ghonim is unworthy of any noteworthy connection, I’d wager that the connection between Google proper and the Egyptian government overthrow is tenuous, if it even exists at all. Except that Schmidt is proud of one of his employees for performing brave, life-risking acts in a region that is highly unstable, in an effort to stand up for his principles. How dare Google extol praise on such a man. Evil.
I’m going to skip over the rather amusing part where Beck continually refers to Google as a mere “search engine”.
“I’m not afraid that Google is reading my email, or tapping your phone lines, or stealing grandma’s recipes.”
That’s amusing. Because that’s what everyone else is afraid of.
“That kind of paranoia is reserved for the left during the Bush administration for Microsoft.”
Wait. What? You know what, nevermind.
By the two-minute fifteen mark, Beck has stated that “I’m not so sure as I look into Google, that I want to use their products any more than I have to, and some of their products, I think I have to.” For starters: there’s not a single Google product, not search, not Gmail, not Google Maps, not Android, not anything that is of such ubiquitous power in the technology world that there are no competent alternatives. Even search, where Google is more or less the undisputed king, has its rival Bing. Bing, while not my favorite search engine, is more than capable of getting you around the internet, and Microsoft will be more than happy to counter nearly all of Google’s online services with their own digital offerings, as with Maps and Hotmail.
Though, I’m curious why you’re suggesting we stop using Google products. You say you hate boycotts, but if you’re to be trusted (and people do trust you, Mr. Beck), Google is not a service you should be using. Confusingly, we’re given the conclusion before we’re given the evidence. It’s almost as if the point is not the truth, but the fear.
“I’m not feeling very comfortable about the current direction of Google, the more I find out.”
I assume you’ll have something more than “Google sometimes says nice things about employees who do brave things without the company’s knowledge or approval.”
It turns out, Mr. Beck does have quite a bit to say about why he doesn’t trust Google. He lists several reasons. The first of which is that they work with the NSA. This cooperation began when, early last year, a Chinese group (allegedly approved of by the Chinese government) hacked into Google’s servers, among many, many others. Google began working with the NSA to prevent future attacks of this kind from occurring. Let me repeat: Google’s involvement with the National Security Agency began when Google decided to protect its own as well as other U.S. networks from outright attacks from the evil communist China. It’s also worth noting that Google spoke with the Chinese government during that ordeal. Google is now said to have ties to Chinese militants who seek to overthrow America. Or something.
Glenn also lists Google’s work with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency on his list of reasons to fear Google, openly admitting “I don’t even know what that is!” Well, Glenn, I’ll gladly tell you. The NGA is an organization that deals with the collection, analysis, and distribution of geospatial intelligence or, in the most laymans terms, map data. That’s right. The NGA (formerly known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, if that tells you anything) basically deals with high-tech maps. Google’s involvement with the NGA could be as simple as building tools and systems to manage map/surveillance data to aid the military. You know, since they’re kind of good at that. Of course, it could also be as sinister as helping the government spy through your computer’s webcam, but I’ll leave the burden of proof on that one to you.
Then, of course, he stops in on Net Neutrality. The evil, evil principle that he’s gotten so unbelievably wrong before. I could spend pages and pages going over how wrong he’s gotten the concept of net neutrality in previous videos, but suffice to say a.) the first video I saw of him discussing the principle, he implied it was a government attempt at controlling content and giving free internet to everyone, rather than simply regulating traffic such that all websites, applications, and ideas have an equal shot at getting their traffic from point A to point B (an admittedly conplex and controversial topic), and 2.) it was this video that made me unable to stomach the man at all.
He then goes on to say that Eric Schmidt is on the White House Council for Science and Technology. He leaves it at that. It seems the fact that Google advises the government on anything means they’re “in bed” with the government. Of course, Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, and Mark Zuckerberg are all meeting with President Obama today. So I guess it’s less of “being in bed with” and more of “having an orgy with” the White House in this case.
Frankly, as long as technology-inept senators like Orrin Hatch, Ted Stevens, and John McCain are the norm, I think the government can use all the advice they can get on how to deal with technology. Though, I suppose, since we don’t know exactly what is being said, it clearly must be evil.
We’re then treated to a lengthy diatribe about how Google is connected or giving money to a variety of name drops that, I’m sure if I followed the show, I’d be aware of why they’re detrimental to my health, my self-esteem, and how they will stab my tires and murder my unconceived children. Out of context, though, I have no idea why these people and organizations are evil. Frankly, getting into any inaccuracies or foggy information about Van Jones, MoveOn.org, George Soros, or any of the other horrifying name drops is outside the scope of Autistic Disdain’s interest or attention span. Let’s stick with the gadgets, shall we?
Thankfully, after a commercial break, Glenn brings it back to the world of technology as he comes to the third (?) reason why you should be wary of Google.
“They’re not working hard enough on your privacy.”
Glenn cites “the WiSpy incident” wherein Google’s Google Maps cars were discovered to have accidentally (though that word was never used) collected data from surrounding unsecured WiFi networks. Of note: it was Google that came forth with the announcement that they’d accidentally collected this data. It was widely reported that this included passwords, credit card numbers, and various other pieces of important-sounding data, however the data was incidental, studied to determine how it was gathered, then legally and properly destroyed. Glenn informs us that the FCC was working with Google to remedy the problem, though, according to Glenn Beck, they’re probably not working too hard, since Google has ties to the White House. A claim that’s not really substantiated given that the FCC’s probe only began last November after the FCC decided it was not satisfied with the FTC’s probe into the issue, which has already concluded. Furthermore, according to a statement from the FTC, Google has already committed to destroying the data. I suppose the government doing double duty on a case is basically the same thing as it slacking off because of evil ties to the government. If Eric Schmidt weren’t so cozy with Van Jones, there’d be three or four government agencies investigating Google instead of just two. And even if none of that were true, the data was mined from unsecured WiFi networks. There is no such thing as private broadcast, and if you have not secured your WiFi network, you are broadcasting a signal to everyone within range of your router. Though, I suppose Beck’s principle of Personal Responsibility ends somewhere just short of learning how to secure your wireless network.
Then there’s Google Buzz incident. Amusingly, Beck cites Google Buzz as one of the primary reasons why Google is evil. If anything, the Google Buzz incident should be used as evidence of Google’s stupidity. When Buzz was first launched, it built a “suggested” social network for Buzz based on your contact information and how frequently you contact certain people. Sounds like a clever idea, except the list of people in your new “Friends” list was made public. A problem that was remedied very quickly after an unbelievably loud outcry. A problem which is also indicative of a very stupid decision, not a very evil one.
Finally, Beck gets to the finality of his argument, once again quoting Eric Schmidt, in one of his standard “we know roughly where you are and what you want” statements, turning the possible future Schmidt has always talked about—your phone reminding you to get milk when you’re on your way home—into something odd and scary. And finally, he comes clean:
“Sometimes, the way Schmidt and Google as a whole think….is creepy.”
So, let me see if I’ve got this straight. A technology organization that’s run almost entirely by engineers, a group that is identifiable as intelligent, not typically fluent in societal norms, and often comes up with brilliant ideas that are a little too odd for normal people’s liking…that group sometimes comes across as creepy.
Stop the fucking presses.
In all honesty, this is the biggest reason why people are bothered by Google (and also why nerds and technophiles are the first to get excited or defend Google’s products). Google is run by engineers. Engineers frequently rush in to an exciting project without giving much consideration into how weird it will seem. It’s actually kinda cool! It’s part of what makes this wonderful technology we love so much happen. We’re just seeing it in an extremely large scale from a corporation. Is it weird? Yes! Is it something that needs to be kept in check? Of course! Does it make Google evil? …Not really?
Beck goes on to quote the “young people will be able to change their name” statement from Schmidt, which Schmidt appearing on the Colbert Report insists was a joke. Though, Glenn Beck thinks he’s totally serious. And you know, if he is, it’s horrifying. I mean, can you imagine what would happen if people were allowed to distance themselves from mistakes made as a child? Why it would be as awful as when youth imprisonment records are expunged upon turning 18! Which is what happens! Ahhhhh!
Perhaps my favorite point of all is when Glenn begins talking about how the “liberals” stood up against Microsoft during the Bush administration (ah, I see where you were going with tha-…no, wait. I still don’t get it), decrying them as a huge evil organization, and saying they were too powerful. But:
“If you begin to have questions on Google, will the press treat you as [someone standing up against a big evil company] or a conspiracy theorist?”
Um, Glenn? They’ll treat you as someone standing up against a big evil corporation.
All of us internet citizens come from various corners of the net. Our tendrils in most sites, but with only a few we call home. And yes, we have tendrils. If I have any corner of the internet I’ve called home, it’s been Gawker Media for the past couple years. I’m part of a vibrant commenting community, and I frequent many of the blogs owned by Gawker Media. Blogs that, I’ll note, can’t shut up about how awful Google is. No, seriously! You think Glenn is compiling all of this crap on his own? With the exception of the Van “MoveOn” Soros crap, most of the complaints about Google can be found on so called “liberal” media sites like the Huffington Post, Gawker, and the New York Times. Curiously, that last link’s URL reads “google-admits-to-snooping-on-personal-data”, while the headline was apparently at some point changed to “Google Says It Inadvertently Collected Personal Data”. A headline that is changed to make a not-terribly-sensational story sound not-terribly-sensational? More like liberal bias, am I right?!
To be perfectly honest, this entire piece is absurd, start to finish. The only parts I can’t outright refute are the connections to the various evil-sounding people Google is allegedly “connected to”, though that’s only because those aren’t areas I’m terribly knowledgeable in. The areas that I am informed on, it’s obvious that Glenn, when he’s not wildly misleading people, or issuing veiled denouncing cries of evil, is outright lying to his audience. How am I expected to take any connection to Van Jones seriously, when Glenn has a history of wildly misunderstanding net neutrality, and can’t even get the opening point, that Google “inserted itself into the Egypt story” right?
Here’s the thing. Everyone’s biased. That’s just a fact of life. But watching televised news feels more like getting my education from an inbred family of Alabaman hicks who’ve been parroting the same ideas to each other for years without any new perspectives or genetic material inserted into the ecosystem for a long time. Fun fact: we humans love companionship so much that we will cling to a sense of community, which is generated and nurtured by common ideas and beliefs, far easier than we will cling to truth. In short, when an organization reaches a homogeneous mixture of ideas, more people will choose to adopt the popularly-held beliefs to attain a sense of belonging than those that will challenge the established ideas for the sake of truth.
Which is why Fox News is the home of Glenn Beck.
That being said, Glenn? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Glenn Beck, Fox News? You guys stay the hell out of the tech world, and I’ll stay out of yours. Cool?
It’s not a terribly new service by any means, but Google has just launched (?) this web page which gives users a broad view of the various services Google provides that you can use to plan your wedding. Now, of course, normally, you don’t tend to associate a search/software company with wedding planning, but it totally makes sense! Consider! Google Docs for handling seating arrangements detailing who’s got unnecessary drama with who! Or Picnik, an online image editor owned by Google for creating cookie-cutter invitations! And that’s just the beginning!
Google, being the internet company that specializes in organizing information and making it universally usable knows the importance of knowing what your significant other is thinking. That’s why they’ve announced Google Cold Feet. If your bride and/or groom are having second thoughts, Google’s predictive algorithms will send you an alert to your Android device. No syncing with your lover required! You can also set it up to alert your friends as to what’s up. This saves valuable awkward standing-at-the-altar-waiting-for-a-bride-that-isn’t-coming time. One simple alert and everyone can move on to the reception hall! Simple.
There’s also Google Father of the Bride. In the early days of marriage, a father giving his daughter away would have to threaten the groom if any harm should ever come to his precious little girl personally. Google makes it easy with this web app for a father to issue any threats, veiled threats, passive aggressive threats, or public humiliations straight from the browser. Google is also working hard to open up the Father of the Bride APIs so that family members can also plug in directly to Google’s Threat Servers and upload their own threats. Google is really excited to see what developers do with this.
And finally, perhaps most innovative of all, is Google Virgin. Google can now aggregate data from your Android device’s messages, chats, etc., and—using their patented algorithms—calculate whether the bride should be wearing white, or if perhaps a red dress would be more appropriate.
This last feature has caused a lot of controversy. Eric Schmidt had to say on the matter “If there’s information about your virginity you’d rather not be made public, maybe you shouldn’t have ever had sex in the first place.”
Google knows where you are. Google knows your voice. Google knows where you live. And now, Google knows about your precious bodily fluids. And like all the information they have, they’re sharing it with everyone.
Google Body Browser, which is surprisingly not the name of Google’s Hot or Not ripoff site, is sort of like if you took the zoom-y, woosh-y fun of Google Earth and combined it with your high school anatomy class. Complete with digital, stylized, semi-transparent mammary glands. Pre-pubescent boys and fully-grown men who still laugh when they fart? That’s your cue!
The real potential, though, will come if Google ever allows users to move the model. As soon as this thing is fully posable, I look forward to dancing skeletal animation GIFs to make a comeback. I’m counting on you internet! Let’s get a conga-line of CG figures, stripped of their skin going.
Paul Buchheit, the creator of and lead developer for Gmail, the service that made the world believe in Google’s ability to hold our data, as opposed to just showing us stuff online, recently stated that “Chrome OS has no purpose that isn’t better served by Android.” Zing! Hahaha! Ouch! Oooh, burn! Oh, snap! Wait what!
He also went on to decry the Virtual Boy as “a clumsy device, whose setup is too difficult, and games too basic to be enjoyable”. He also stated that Windows ME was “a clunky OS, with little to no improvement over Windows 98”. And concerning the Playstation Move, he said “Oh wait, you mean that new Wii controller?”
To be fair to Chrome OS, this guy not only uses FriendFeed, he created it. Any predictions of how the internet will accept a platform should be taken with the pillar of salt formerly known as Lot’s wife.
If you’ve never heard of The Astonishing Tribe, one could hardly blame you. But they deserve some recognition. Remember when the G1 came out? And folks looked at it and thought “Wow, this UI looks amazing! I’ve never seen anything like it! Absolutely gorgeous!” No? Well, The Astonishing Tribe is the one largely responsible for why you didn’t. And now they’re owned by RIM.
Of course, that’s not the only thing TAT has worked on. Why there’s…..ummm…. uhhhh….I think they…did…umm…something….
Well, according to their website they say they make an Android homescreen replacement. I guess their interface designs were so good that Google had no choice but to let them go, get someone else to work on Android’s UI, and leave TAT to do their own thing. You know, like how Warner Bros treats Christopher Nolan. (Hey, you make a movie like The Dark Knight, studios will let you go as deep into your dreams as you want, too.)
Trouble is, I have no idea what phones actually use TAT Home. TAT specifically states their customers are phone vendors, not consumers. So you can’t just download TAT from the market. So, who’s going to put their TAT Home interface on their Android phones?Well, the guys who make Blackberries of cour-wait what.
RIM, who’s never been the best at making both a functional and gorgeous UI (they pretty much just stick with functional), has bought out the company that makes some gorgeous interfaces that are of questionable functionality. Should be a hit! Or something!
Personally, I have a sick feeling in my stomach about this. It’s the same feeling I get when my dad dresses like a hipster.
So, you can import your Google contacts into Facebook if you’d like. However, if a few years down the road, you decide that you don’t want to use Facebook anymore (surely Diaspora will have hit critical mass by this point. Surely), you will be unable to export those contacts for use in some other service.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Oh no, they di’n’t! Boyeeee, Facebook best back up before they start sumthin! Dat’s sum seriously effed up stuff right dere!”
Well, it turns out, Google thinks just the same way you do, because they’ve been engaging in a digital smackdown that rivals that of the infamous clash of the titans between Palm and Apple over iTunes sync. First Google is all “Facebook, you can’t import contacts from us unless you open up.” So Facebook sneaks in the back door and imports Google’s contacts anyways.
Google, being the victim of unwanted intrusion does the only thing they can do: make a formal notification of Facebook as a Registered Data Offender. Now, if you try to import data to Facebook from Google, you’ll see the above warning. Also, Facebook has to notify their neighbors of their status as an RDO when they move into a new server. Oh yeah, and once you’re on that list, you’re on it forever. Awkwaaaaaard.