Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Limited Options or How To Gab With Google



The following is an edited version of a message that I posted in a Google Help Forum today:

I get the impression that some people believe that if they don't "make nice" then some mad hatter at Google will do terrible and permanent things to their account. That is balderdash. Google is in the midst of grabbing for the next major opportunity in its overall growth, making cunning business deals, and messing around with at least one lawsuit.

The timing of this situation probably couldn't have been worse. It just gets in the way of Google's progress.

It's a glitch. A darned annoying glitch. But it hasn't come on the heels of some ax-wielding G-person who is looking to chop people's accounts to bits.

Ever since 2004, I have been on very open terms with Google. By that I mean, I say what I have to say. Then Google speaks back. However, my concern now is not for what I say but for who is left in the whole operation to say it to.

Communication has really taken a smack and this situation has made the information-exchange problem abundantly clear.

I don't feel comfortable, discussing MY account, on a public message board like this...AT ALL.

I think it's the wrong way to deal with anything that might go tospy-turvey in my day-to-day use of Google's products.

And for those of you who don't know, I got my Gmail account directly from Google back in April of 2004. I didn't have to fuss with the dreaded invite system that was put in place back then. Instead, I took the initiative to answer Google's annual April Fool gag that year.

Google put an email within its pages that was tied to a mythical plan to establish a Google space station on the moon. Google explained that it was looking for people to work at the space station. I sent a hilarious application to the Big G in response to their gag.

I didn't expect an answer. But I got one.

Google actually answered my email and explained that all of the slots for the space station were filled and offered me a coveted Gmail account, as a consolation prize. I accepted it with thanks.

At that point in time, people were ready to sell their second car to get their hands on a Gmail account. But, for the most part, Gmail accounts were available by invitation, only.

A magazine published a story about Gmail and included me in it.

I got a limited number of invites from Google that I could graciously pass on to anyone that wanted one. Those invites were like gold.

After the article came out, I got a whole slew of interesting requests for one of my stash of precious invitations.

My point is this: Back then, communication between Google, its users, the rest of the Internet and me...was MUCH more wide-open than it is now. I see that as a bad change.

And something for Google to think about.

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