Google: Business Planning at the Highest Level Revealed

August 30, 2021

Here’s the recipe. Hire people who were spark plugs in their high school’s science club, on the math team, and participated in quick recall competitions with other like minded people. Then create teams and when something generates money, “put wood behind it.” This is a high school science club sports reference because everyone knows about baseball. Playing it? Sure, on the softball fields adjacent El Camino.

What’s the result?

The answer is brilliantly presented in “A Decade and a Half of Instability: The History of Google Messaging Apps.” The write up runs about 24,000 words. For reference, a “real book” is usually in the neighborhood of 100,000 words. This article is definitely in the Kindle self published target zone. But the inclusion of nifty graphics like the image illustrating the old and new approach to one of Google’s chat services; namely, a different icon:

image

The write up is an excellent summary, and it illustrates Google’s number two approach to innovation: Just put stuff up and see what gets clicks. No clicks, no problem. Try, try again. (In case you have not read my previous Google write ups, the company’s number one method of innovation is “me too.” Example: Inspiration from Yahoo and Overture monetization methods. As I say, “Google made lots of money; therefore, live with it.)

Please, read the source document in its entirety. I will offer a few observations:

  1. Gee, Google has been trying to get sustainable traction in the chat space for a long time
  2. Some of the ideas were good but suffered a remarkable deterioration under Google’s stewardship; for example Transformics’ technology which inspired Wave.
  3. Clear evidence that high school science club management methods were the inspiration for the film “Animal House.” Boy, does this product/service run down make Googzilla look confused, indifferent, distracted, or (maybe) dissociated.

I am waiting for “Animal House II: The Google Years.”

Stephen E Arnold, August 30, 2021

Googleland: A Strange Variant of English Indeed

August 26, 2021

I used the term “Googzilla” in my monograph the Google Legacy and I refer to everyone’s favorite mom-and-pop online ad service by this coinage in my lectures.

I overlooked the fact that Googzilla and its minion have a language beyond hissing, grunting, and snorting in courts around the world. An insightful person named allegedly Cyrus Shepard coined and trademarked the word “Googlespeak” for his article “Googlespeak TM How Google Limits Thought about Antitrust.” I would love to insert the required TM symbol when I use the word, but I don’t know how to pull this off in the two-bit editor I use to create blog posts in airports. Please, understand that Googlespeak is a trademarked word, and I do not want to trample on anyone’s rights. Will the Google be happy with the word Googlespeak? That I do not know. Who would have thought that Mickey Mouse ears would engender excitement or cause LexisNexis to become agitated by a personal grooming product named in a manner similar to Nexis. I am still afraid to write “Nexus”. Lawyers never sleep because billing…

The article explains that using a specific vocabulary with non-conventional meanings assigned to words has an impact on one’s thoughts. Go to Disneyland and you know what a Magic Kingdom is when you stand in line for a couple of hours and hand over enough money to support an individual living in a tent near the Bureau of Labor Statistics for a week, maybe more.

When in the country of Google, one obviously must speak the citizens’ language. Try out English in Andorra. Let me know how that works out for you. Same in Googleland. I learned:

Orwell observed that when you limit a person’s language, you can successfully limit their thoughts.

As it turns out, in order to turn a blind eye against growing antitrust concerns, Google has codified its own version of Newspeak and made it official company policy.

In documents obtained by The Markup, Google makes it obvious that certain words are taboo in both internal and external communication. The intent of these guidelines couldn’t be more obvious. One document, titled “Five Rules of Thumb for Written Communication,” spells it out clearly. “Words matter. Especially in antitrust law.”

If you live in Googleland, the information in Mr. Shepard’s write up will make no sense to you. For those who reside in other countries, the examples in the essay are likely to add to your understanding of the mom-and-pop outfit.

One problem: After a couple of decades most Googlers and Google users understand Googzilla quite well. Who wants to tangle with the big hypothetical monster. I don’t. I think the GOOG is just peachy keen. Antitrust? Is that a synonym for helping out folks like advertisers, users, Timnit Gebru, and 20 something employees working from home at reduced wage rates? Nope.

Stephen E Arnold, August 26, 2021

Let Us Now Consider Power: Rev That Bezos Bulldozer

August 26, 2021

I read a brief item which seems to go against the chatter I heard in DC several days ago; namely, Elon has smoked Jeffie. The “new” information appears Jeff Bezos Succeeded” online.

Here’s the passage catching my eye:

This Thursday, the United States Space Agency (NASA) voluntarily decided to suspend the contract it signed with Elon Musk’s company SpaceX to collaborate on the Artemis Moon mission, the project that seeks to bring humans to the Moon again. This as a result of the lawsuit filed by the aerospace company Blue Origin , owned by Jeff Bezos , alleging irregularities in the selection process.

How does one spell power? How about B E Z O S? There’s nothing quite like competition among interesting companies. Lawyers are outstanding when it comes to rocket science and rock star technologists.

A side note: At the same time as the bulldozer was packing ice around the Musk rocket ship, Mr. Bezos had a CVT Soft Serve ice cream maker in his home. Ice: No match for the Bezos machine.

Stephen E Arnold, August 26, 2021

TikTok Is Big and Growing Bigger

August 26, 2021

The Twitter of video is roiding up.

Why are we not surprised? Nikkei reveals results of its recent global survey of downloads in, “TikTok Overtakes Facebook as World’s Most Downloaded App.” Writer Rei Nakafuji reminds us:

“Some believe that personal information shared with TikTok is not secure. In 2020, former President Donald Trump called on the company to sell off its U.S. operations or be banned. The app’s popularity nevertheless grew during the pandemic, when it became the leading download in Europe, South America and the U.S. Joe Biden, Trump’s successor, withdrew the presidential executive order, but uncertainties remain elsewhere.”

Despite these uncertainties, it seems the sky is the limit for TikTok. The write-up reports that, in the US and UK, total viewing time for the app has surpassed that for YouTube. We notice there is even a service now, named Heepsy, that helps advertisers find influencers to promote their brands. Its description reads simply:

“Find TikTok influencers who fulfill your brand’s requirements in a matter of seconds. Filter by location, follower count, and engagement. Check out their location, engagement rate, follower count, and total number of videos.”

Are Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube getting nervous about TikTok’s ascendance? We are curious to see what countermeasures each will deploy.

Cynthia Murrell, August 26, 2021

Like Apple, Google Cares about Children

August 25, 2021

My question, “Why are large technology companies demonstrating a new interest in protecting children?” PR maybe? Impending regulation? A realization that their days of carefree unregulated behavior are coming to a close? I sure don’t know.

Well this took longer than it should have. What an innovation after 20 plus years… protecting children. BBC News reports, “Google Lets Parents Remove Children from Image-Search Results.” We learn:

“Parents will now be able to have images of their children removed from Google search results, the company has said. It came as Google announced a range of changes to child-safety measures across several of its products. It will also remove ‘overly commercial content’ from the children’s version of YouTube and change what kind of adverts can be targeted at under-18s. Several major technology companies have introduced such measures under scrutiny from governments and safety advocates.”

Ah, so the move was in response to pressure, not out of the goodness of Google’s conscience. What a surprise. The write-up notes Facebook-owned Instagram has made accounts of those under 16 private by default (they weren’t already?!) in an effort to placate critics of its plan to launch a children’s version.

Googley concessions within YouTube Kids include turning off autoplay as the default and removing “overly” commercial content. As for Google Search, in addition to the ability to remove children’s images from results, the company is making the following changes:

  • Stopping ad targeting based on children’s age, gender or interests
  • Preventing ‘age sensitive’ types of adverts being shown to younger users
  • Changing the default mode for uploaded videos, for children, to ‘the most private option’
  • Turning adult-filtering mode Safe Search on for minors
  • Preventing young people from using Location History, the feature that tracks and logs a phone’s location constantly
  • Adding new parental advice on the Google Play app store”

These measures seem like common sense, and one wonders if such fences should have been erected and maintained years, decades ago. Better late than never, we suppose. The article points out, though, that many kids lie about their age when they venture online. Are age verification measures, like the ones used for online sales of cigarettes and booze, on the way? They may be, at least in the UK, if that nation’s Online Safety Bill passes.

Apple and Google care about kids.

Cynthia Murrell, August 25, 2021

It Is Official: Big Tech Outfits Are Empires

August 23, 2021

Who knew? The Electronic Frontier Foundation revealed a factoid which is designed to shock. My position has been that big tech outfits operate like countries. I was wrong. The FAANG-type operations are empires. I stand corrected.

I learned this in “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Platforms Want To Be Utilities, Self-Govern Like Empires.” The write up asserts:

The tech giants argue that they are entitled to run their businesses largely as they see fit: if you don’t like the house rules, just take your business elsewhere.

The write up omits that FAANG-type outfits are not harming the consumer. Plus these organizations operate in accordance with an invisible hand. (I like science fiction, don’t you.)

The problem is that we are now decades into the digital revolution, and the EFF like some other entities are beginning to realize that flows of digital information reconstitute the Great Chain of Being. At the top of the chain are the FAANG-type operations.

At the bottom are the thumbtypers. In the middle, those who are unable to ascend and unwilling to become data serfs are experts like those at the EFF.

“Fixes” are the way forward. From my point of view, the problems have been fixed when those lower in the chain complain, upgrade to a new mobile device, suck down some TikToks, and chill with “content.”

The future has arrived, and it is quite difficult to change the status quo and probably an Afghanistanian task to alter the near-term future.

Empires, not countries. Sounds about right.

Stephen E Arnold, August 23, 2021

Amazon AWS: Personalization? What Is That? Who Cares?

August 23, 2021

I read the impassioned “AWS Doesn’t Know Who I Am. Here’s Why That’s A Problem.” The individual appears to perceive himself as an Amazon-savvy professional.  I learned:

My name is Ben Kehoe. I’m an AWS Serverless Hero. I’ve spoken at re:Invent. I meet regularly with teams across AWS. I’m followed by @awscloud on Twitter. But AWS doesn’t know who I am.

There are examples of services which pay attention to the “identity” or “alleged identity” of a user. These are helpful examples, and I liked the inclusion of Microsoft GitHub as an outfit who appears to care about an individual’s or a persona’s identity.

The write up includes the many tokens used to keep track of an AWS user or account. There is, it seems, no meta-token basket. Thus, instead of being a single entity, there are many separate AWS entities.

Several thoughts occurred to me:

  1. Fragmenting makes it easier to assess fees on hard-to-track services one part of an entity incurs. Why make it easy to manage AWS fees?
  2. Like security, Amazon AWS shifts the burden from the utility to the person, entity, or software process. My hunch is that the approach allows AWS to say, “Not our problem.”
  3. Amazon and AWS require that users and entities recognize that the company is, in effect, a person. Most people forget that a commercial enterprise may have more rights than a humanoid.

Net net: Amazon has no incentive to care about anyone, including Ben Kehoe unless the corporate person benefits in my opinion. Humans want to be perceived as unique. AWS is not mom. Thus, the problem is not Amazon’s.

Stephen E Arnold, August 23, 2021

Google Fiddled Its Magic Algorithm. What?

August 19, 2021

This story is a hoot. Google, as I recall, has a finely tuned algorithm. It is tweaked, tuned, and tailored to deliver on point results. The users benefit from this intense interest the company has in relevance, precision, recall, and high-value results. Now a former Google engineer or Xoogler in my lingo has shattered my beliefs. Night falls.

Navigate to “Top Google Engineer Abandons Company, Reveals Big Tech Rewrote Algos To Target Trump.” (I love the word “algos”. So colloquial. So in.) I spotted this statement:

Google rewrote its algorithms for news searches in order to target #Trump, according to target Trump, according to @Perpetualmaniac #Google whistleblower, and author of the new book, “Google Leaks: An Expose of Bit Tech Censorship.”

The write up states:

As a senior engineer at Google for many years, Zach was aware of their bias, but watched in horror as the 2016 election of Donald Trump seemed to drive them into dangerous territory. The American ideal of an honest, hard-fought battle of ideas — when the contest is over, shaking hands and working together to solve problems — was replaced by a different, darker ethic alien to this country’s history,” the description adds. Vorhies said he left Google in 2019 with 950 pages of internal documents and gave them to the Justice Department.

Wowza. Is this an admission of unauthorized removal of a commercial enterprise’s internal information?

The sources for this interesting allegation of algorithm fiddling are interesting and possibly a little swizzly.

I am shocked.

The Google fiddling with precision, recall, objectivity, and who knows what else? Why? My goodness. What has happened to cause a former employee to offer such shocking assertions.

The algos are falling on my head and nothing seems to fit. Crying’s not for me. Nothing’s worrying me. Because Google.

Stephen E Arnold, August 19, 2021

Google Quote to Note: We Are Just Like Our Customers

August 18, 2021

I read “Google Cloud’s Top Engineers Explain How They Use Customers Sessions to Build Products.” The write up is information obtained from a single Google engineer. The Googler manifests the here-and-now of customer empathy sessions. Yep, empathy. Google cares about the Cloud it seems.

I noted this statement attributed to the empathetic Google expert:

When I joined Google, we needed to get better at meeting people where they are. That was the idea behind these empathy sessions.—Googler Kelsey Hightower

“Meeting people where they are.” Does that mean in a trade show booth. I thought in Washington, DC, Google relied on partners to meet “customers.” Guess I was incorrect in that but that factoid surfaced in a meeting at a security services outfit on August 9, 2021. One of those people noted that he had performed this function for the Google. Obviously, despite the security of the attendees, the first hand account was disinformation maybe?

Here’s another insightful and human centric statement about Google systems:

When you have good technology, you can fall into this trap of assuming it just works.

Okay, great observation. Is the Google in this trap because empathy is one thing and delivering systems that “work”, useful documentation, that bugaboo customer support are not inherently empathetic. These are business services directly at odds with cost cutting, efficiency, and assuming that Googlers are smarter than everyone else in the whole wide world. News flash: That’s not exactly a good premise in my opinion. If that were true, dead fish like Amazon and Microsoft would not be selling more cloud services than Mother Google.

Now here’s the quote to note:

Empathy engineering is a very humbling experience.

Yep, humbling. Maybe a new catchphrase for Googlers? Just be humble. How does that sound?

I think it is more T-shirtable than Don’t be evil. Evil can generate revenue.

Stephen E Arnold, August 18, 2021

Traditional Sports Media: Sucking Dust and Breathing Fumes?

August 12, 2021

The TikTok video format is becoming a norm core channel. I want to mention that Amazon Twitch is having a new media moment as well. I read “Lionel Messi’s Twitch App Interview Shows How Social Media Is Conquering Sports.” Note that this link is generated by DailyHunt and the story itself is output by smart software; thus, the link may be dead, and there’s not much I can do to rectify the situation.

The story contained this statement, which may be spot or or just wild and crazy Internet digital baloney:

Spanish influencer Ibai Llanos chatted with Lionel Messi on Amazon.com Inc.’s streaming platform Twitch after the world’s best-paid athlete signed with French soccer club Paris Saint Germain from Barcelona.

Here’s the kicker (yep, Messi-esque I know):

More than 3,17,000 people watched the exclusive interview, the kind of prestigious content that would often be sold to the highest bidder for TV broadcast in different territories. Llanos was introduced to Messi by Sergio Aguero, a fellow Barcelona player and video-game enthusiast who is friendly with the social media celebrity. Sports viewing is shifting steadily onto streaming platforms, and even overtaking traditional broadcast TV in the Asia Pacific region, according to GlobalWebIndex.

What? Twitch? Who is the star? Messi? The write up states:

Soccer clubs are eager to tap this new revenue source after they were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, especially as they need to win over younger audiences who enjoy video gaming just as much as traditional sports. Llanos has drawn 7 million Twitch followers since he started out commenting on esports tournaments from his home. He’s brought a humorous commenting style to everything from toy-car races to chess games. He’s now becoming a sports entrepreneur in his own right, collaborating with Barcelona’s Gerard Pique to broadcast the Copa America soccer competition in Spain. Llanos streamed a top-tier Spanish game for the first time in April under a deal between the Spanish league and TV rights owner Mediapro.

Observations I jotted down as I worked through this “smart software” output:

  1. Amazon Twitch plays a part in this shift to an influencer, streaming platform, and rights holder model
  2. The pivot point Llanos has direct access and channel options
  3. Eyeballs clump around the “force” of the stream, the personalities, and those who want to monetize this semi-new thing.

Big deal? Well, not for me, but for those with greyhounds in the race, yep. Important if true.

Stephen E Arnold, August 12, 2021

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