Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I am tired of the Google Blog

Sorry, Google; but the Google Blog is not providing “Googler insights into product and technology news and our culture”. It’s simply a series of press releases, massaged slightly to give them a more folksy tone; it just doesn’t ring true.

Today’s post announcing Google Talk carries the byline of a Google software engineer. But it has a strong whiff of marketing ghostwriting:

Google has a friendly talk-in-the-hallway kind of culture that I love, but Google engineers seem to be everywhere now, from Bangalore to Tokyo to Dublin to Zurich. I work on a team that’s in Mountain View, Kirkland, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. We like to talk about the projects we’re working on, but a hallway is hard to come by. So we’ve put together a gadget that keeps us talking, even when we’re on different sides of the planet.
I'm sorry, but no: I don’t buy it. Google Talk is clearly not some 20% project you knocked together to make life easier for yourselves; it’s strategic. There are plenty of existing instant-messaging services that a software team could have used to stay in touch.

The sound is great—usually much better than a regular phone—and it’s a perfect way to use that computer microphone you never realized you had. My laptop with its built-in mic makes a superb speakerphone. Google Talk also works great with just about any standard mic or headset you can plug in to a computer.
Oh please: no software engineer talks like this.

The Google Blog is a real wasted opportunity, because the world is full of people who would like to see deeper into Google’s operations, products, and culture. Microsoft have opened up considerably, both with hundreds of blogs (official and unofficial; Raymond Chen’s The Old New Thing is one of my favourites) by Microsoft employees and with their Channel 9 project. Google’s following is even more cultish than Microsoft’s. More open, and more human, communication might serve them well.

(As for Google Talk: meh. Introverts don’t do well on real-time chat; too much social pressure. I never liked IRC much; I never took to IM; hell, I still don’t much like the telephone. The move towards interoperability is interesting, though.)