I’ve been a bit bearish on Google lately and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Not to join in on any kind of pile-on, but I think I’ve figured out my unease: the awkward, stupid things the people over at Google say (and how they say it).
Exhibit A: Andy Rubin
the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make”
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) October 19, 2010
The guy behind Android itself tweets that the ‘definition of open source’ is a command to create and build the Android source code. While this is no longer the case, at the time it came across as pompous, inaccessible, and pretty smug for a group that has become less and less open (while still touting it as their mantra).
Exhibit B: Vic Gundotra
As one of the more prominent presenters from Google, Vic has continued to lead us through the Google I/O keynotes and make snide jabs at Apple. In addition to coming across as petty and immature, the first time I really remember Vic’s “presentation style” was when he awkwardly hosted Conan O’Brien at Google. Conan himself (around 5:30) asks “why are you running this?!”
Exhibit C: Eric Schmidt
“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” he says. He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites.
Is someone recommending to the Wall Street Journal we change our name if we have information available on social networks we no longer want known? That someone is the former CEO, now Chairman of Google. And he certainly has a record of saying weird, stupid stuff. The latest gaff is around the Google+ integration and how Google is unfairly promoting its own content (from Google+) within search results. Danny Sullivan talks to Schmidt who says, essentially: “for competitors to be part of this integration, we need to talk”, and did you guys talk?, “I won’t talk about specifics.” Well, the data is already there in Google’s index; it knows about millions of Twitter profiles and Facebook profiles. What is there to talk about? What are you really saying, Eric?! What the hell is going on over there…
Sure, Steve Jobs wrote a letter all about how Flash sucks. Some pundits thought it was inappropriate and a sign of weakness, but in actuality: it was well written, made fair points, explained a company’s position succinctly and candidly and seemed genuine. These bozos with their “candor” actually seem anti-social, awkward, and out of touch with reality. They make me nervous.
Maybe these examples are good reason why some tech companies keep their employees quiet and behind rehearsed presentations and prepared press releases. I hope that filtering, restraint, and preparation start to be viewed more as virtues. Because, without them, I hear things and read things and worry about what these personalities behind these companies are really thinking…
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. —Abraham Lincoln