Google’s Microsoftish Way

October 21, 2008

I think a great deal about Google’s technology, which I think is world class. I don’t think much about its sales and marketing because I think it is subjective and Google is not too good at “other directedness”. I think that’s the phrase I heard a touchy-feely type say at one of the sales meetings I attended when I worked at Ziff almost two decades ago. Lou Cabron’s “The Great Google Rebellion” reflects the thinking of a person who does care about sales, marketing, and how other people perceive math and computer science wizards. You must take a moment and read his article at here. He quotes one use of Google’s new iGoogle or “ig” for individualized Google home page who uses spicy language. For me, that language is too much like a Sichuan pepper, but you may find it just right. The point of Mr. Cabron’s post is that Google made a unilateral change. Howls from surprised users have been, if the article is accurate, ignored as of October 21, 2008, at 9am.

I wrote about “ig” in Google Version 2.0 here, and I have included the container technology in my in depth, for fee technology briefings about Google for about 18 months. The “ig” service presents the user with an interface that a user can customize. Although powerful, the “ig” interface does not flower until you run it under Chrome, Google’s industrial strength connector to the Google infrastructure complete with diamond-sheathed tracking and parsing functions. Think programmable search engine, usage tracking, and dataspaces.


Math club antics are sometimes amusing. Sometimes not too amusing. Source:

What I thought when I read Mr. Cabron’s article was that most people don’t have a good vantage point from which to observe Google. For example, in the last week as I shivered in a cheap hotel in London’s grimiest district I learned about:

  • Google’s Eric Schmidt endorsing a presidential candidate and hinting that being name tech advisor would be interesting
  • Google’s high resolution satellite imagery is better than the imagery available to most nation states, resolving at about one pixel showing two fee of landscape. This is good enough to read license plates when one has a few helper tools.
  • Google’s Sergey Brin “dropping in” at the Russian super secret space facility to prep for his rocket ride and space jaunt
  • Google’s financial performance which demonstrated that Google’s economy is more robust than that of most countries, including the UK where I am paying $400 for the equivalent of a night’s stay in the hospital in Malmesbury in the 9th century. (A “hospital” used to be a synonym for an inn. Just cough and you had a slot in a flea ridden hay mattress with several other gents.)

In my addled goose brain, several thoughts flitted through my mind as I listened to the soft sounds of rats moving between the exterior of the hotel and my room’s walls.


Economical London hotel with room for four or more instant friends.

First, Google is operating like a nation state. I advanced this argument in mid 2007 and few noticed. I don’t think awareness is spreading quickly, but I think Mr. Cabron may be getting near my hillock from which I observe the GOOG.

Second, as a commercial nation state, Google may be tough to regulate. The Dutch are trying to get some email information from Google. From what I have read, the Dutch are making progress, just slowly. Countries have a difficult time getting Google to return phone calls and answer email, so it’s no surprise to me that a few “ig” users are twisting in the wind. The US agencies are struggling with the Google-Yahoo tie up in the midst of a financial meltdown with a president nearing the end of his term.

Third, Google is pragmatic. If you are uncertain about what this means, you may want to refresh your memory by reading William James’s brilliant explanation of what pragmatism is, how it approaches reality, and what results a pragmatist can achieve. Click here for a refresher. Click here to buy the book.

As I reflected about Google’s 10-year trajectory, I concluded that my argument in The Google Legacy was 100% accurate. Microsoft has become the “new” IBM. Google has become the “new” Microsoft. The company’s actions are no longer the amusing antics of the math club kids who march to their own drummer. Google is the 21st-century version of Microsoft. It’s not surprising to me that some of Google’s mimic Microsoft’s youthful behavior in the mid 1980s.

Agree? Disagree? Bring facts and help me learn.

Stephen Arnold, October 21, 2008


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