Sunday, September 4, 2011

Google+ = AOL 1997

If you want to take a giant step backward in the social consciousness of the Internet then just become a Google+ user. And yet it is worse than that, Google+ isn't just the worst work party you have ever skipped, it is also an unending telemarketer.

Sounds enticing? No?

All you have to do is always use your personal identity everywhere on the Internet and grant Google the rights to everything you say and do, as well as everything anybody you know says or does anything that is even remotely connected to you for their commercial gain, "We will record information about your activity - such as posts you comment on and the other users with whom you interact - in order to provide you and other users with a better experience on Google services.."

Google+, Googles version of Facebook, has come under fire not only for it's insistence on you submitting government identification as a condition of participation, but for its failure to engage in meaningful dialog on what they are wanting people to do.
Google Plus: no stupider moment for Google to subscribe to the gospel of Zuckerberg.

Google Plus's controversial identity policy requires all users to use their "real names". Commentators have pointed to problems with this, including the implausibility of Google being able to determine correctly which names are real and which ones are fake. Other problems include the absurdity of Google's demand for scans of government ID to accomplish this task and the fractal implausibility of Google being able to discern real from fake in all forms of government ID.

Google argues that people behave better when they use their real names. Google also states it is offering an identity service, not a social network, and therefore needs to know who you are and, thirdly, that no one is forcing you to use Google Plus.

However valid the first two points may be, they are eclipsed by the monumental intellectual dishonesty of that last one – no one's holding a gun to your head, so shut up if you don't like it.

Because when Google's chairman, Eric Schmidt, told NPR's Andy Carvin, "G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it", he implied the only time a service should come under critical scrutiny is when it is mandatory.

This simplistic theory of critical discourse is perfectly incoherent, implying that in a marketplace, the only role "consumers" have is to buy things or not buy things, use things or not use things, and that these decisions should not be informed by vigorous debate and discussion, but only by marketing messages.
. . .
Read the rest of Cory Doctorow's, Google Plus forces us to discuss identity: Google's Real Name policy embodies a theory that states the way to maximise civility is to abolish anonymity, here.

The Stasi were less intrusive.

Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, has this nutty idea that if people had to use their real names then they would not be as mean. That's absurd, I know plenty of real assholes in real life, and I know their real names, but that hasn't prevented them from being assholes.

For that matter, I know Eric Schmidt used his real name and is using his company's position and power to stamp out anonymity. He's a real asshole, and I don't feel one bit better that I know his real name.

What the real world will miss out on by extinguishing anonymity is the kindness of strangers, expressed to strangers, in public forums, with the security of knowing that an expression of genuine human emotion is unconstrained by what somebody looks like or they have a name difficult to pronounce.

Worse yet, the Internet in many ways is still an expression of the written form of communication, where anyone and everyone is the writer. Some writers, sometimes, in some situations, want to be anonymous. They have their reasons. No one is forcing you to read them.

Eric Schmidt's desire to extinguish the nom de guerre is a affront to liberty, and is bound to be an epic failure.
This Internet bubble society has been tried before, it was called America On-Line. Welcome to your future Google+, AOL 1997.

In the mean time many well meaning and naive people will stuff your servers full of their personal information to be used against them later in their lives, under the guise of a "better user experience".

In Eric Schmidt's Google+ world N.W. Clerk doesn't exist, and that is a world not living in.