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Chris Messina

David -- interesting take on my posts. Strangely, I'm unable to answer your final question: "unsafe for whom?".

On the one hand, Google is doing us some good, playing the 5-year-old -- weilding a powerful system and letting the rest of us share in its "light".

On the other hand, and an extension of your metaphor that I hope you'll induldge me, what the 5-year-old with the candle doesn't realize is that there's a child in the corner who's shivering and can't get warm. Though the perceived value of the candle is light, for others, it is warmth.

This is the point that I was making I think -- that Google is providing some very powerful and useful services, but it's also segmenting itself off of true third-party interoperability and the potential for that-which-they-hadn't-thought-of.

This is why I'm such an advocate of open source -- if you're able to focus on providing a good basic set of services and open source your code, you allow for the possibility that someone else with needs that you aren't sensitive to could use your work to satisfy themselves.

For many people, Google's software is good enough as is. They've done well reducing complexity and making most things just work. But, this is in the face of years of Word Macros and custom software that was built on top of Microsoft Office. We know that one size doesn't fit all, so why would Google think that they're so clever that they can make tools that portend to offer such a panacea?

I do hope that, over time, Google and others realize that centralizing their power and control is contrary to their ultimate goals and potential -- that there are other uses for their candle's light... and warmth... that hold much promise for the next generation of technology that serves humankind.


Hey Chris,

Good points, and thanks for the response. I'm really using your posts as a basis for heading off into a tanget of meta-considerations that I'd like the defacto standards bodies to consider, and not so much commenting on Google specifically.

I think Google actually does show a bit more maturity than some of the other heavyweights on the playground. As you point out, they are still more biased toward making their own stuff play together nicely, rather than thinking of how the individual participant's life could be made easier.

The Digg commentator misses the point of this completely. In an age of mashups, we'll simply deconstuct and reconstruct the pieces in the ways that solve our problems most effectively. Standards are launchpads, not silos. Any attempt to lash the synthesisers and creators (vs. Bradley's consumers) to a particular stack of functionality will become obviously, obnoxiously, manipulative and coercive.

It's true that huckster in plaid jackets on used car lots are helping people by enabling their transportation needs. But that's not their primary objective. "What's in it for me?" is a question that is never leaves the forefront of their minds.

Google? They get it more than most. Yahoo is more huckster, and Google is the original Saturn dealer. Almost no one is looking out for the best interest of the public good. Is it their place? I think we'll start seeing this question as a major differentiator in the next 5 - 10 years. I've been called overly optimistic before.

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