Google’s “new” “new mission”

I recently listened to a Supernova podcast which interviewed Bradley Horowitz, the head of Google Apps among other things.  Bradley discussed the basics of Google Apps but also the mission and vision for the product.  The take away for me was that Google is moving from organizing the worlds public information (Google.com, etc) to also attempting to organize the worlds private or semi-priavte information (Google Apps).

That sounds all well and good to me as a “new” mission for Google.  I benefit greatly from Google Apps in the areas of productivity, communication, collaboration, etc.  I also love how Google Apps brings my web and mobile experiences together (go Android!).  This organization of my private and semi-private information worlds along with the traditional search capabilities of Google are all-in-all just fantastic.  However, I would like to see Google take yet one more step.

If step one was “Organizing the worlds information – PUBLIC”
If step two is “Organizing the worlds information – PRIVATE/SEMI-PRIVATE/PERSONAL/ORG/ENTERPRISE”

I would like to see a step three:

“Organizing the worlds information – TACIT/CONVERSATIONAL/DIALOGUE”

I envision this as a real-time mashup of WAVE/VOICE/GMAIL where Google users can search for real-time information from real people.  There would need to be a transactional piece (like eBay), a ratings/review piece (like Amazon), and a security/verification piece (Facebook connect?). Of course, I am sure Google can add their own serahc piece as well…

An example use case:

I am a student at a public school working with a small group of other students.  Our teacher has just given us a writing assignment.  We have been asked to write an alternative healthcare bill for congress.  We are to provide an abstract which includes a summary of our position on the current debate and the key elements or our bill would contain (if a real bill for congress).  And BTW it is due in 45 minutes!  We start by reviewing online content including editorials and Senate.gov materials and having a conversation about our general thoughts and understandings.  We are having difficulty grasping the differences between the two main sides of this debate and we are looking to run our current ideas past an expert.  Using Google’s real-time search mashup, we locate 2 people online currently that claim to be healthcare experts.  We read the reviews of past interactions they have had with other users and we check their public Facebook pages.  We use Voice/Wave to call each of them and our conversation and interview notes are captured and shared.  From these two interviews we are able to check our ideas and clarify how our views differ from the two views put forth currently in Congress.  We are not billed by the two experts because we are students.  We do, however, give positive feedback on each experts page and give a brief comment on what our objective was and how we were helped.

Second example:

I am at a bar.  A friend and I get into a heated debate over who was the female star in the late 80’s movie “Weird Science”.  Was it Kelly McGillis or Kelly LeBrock?  Not only are we fighting over the name of the actress but we both wonder what happened to either of these actresses.  A Google search on a mobile in a bar late at night is possible but not probable.  A quick search of experts online that have expertise based on a keyword search of “80’s movie trivia” using Google’s real-time search mash-up pulls up three possibilities.  We use Google Voice to call one of them, get our answer and pass the phone around to others at the bar that have additional Weird Science related questions.

Third example:

I just finished watching a local nightly news program.  There was a disturbing report of an oil spill in the bay of a  town I once visited in Alaska.  I am really interested in knowing more about the spill, what the response is going to be, who is involved, etc, etc.  A quick Google News search only turns up a link to the story I just watched.  Using Google’s real-time search mash-up I find that 2 people who live in the town are online now and have gestured that they want to discuss the latest on what is happening on the ground.  I use Voice/Wave to contact one of the people who is all ready speaking with 3 others who have contacted him to get more information as well.  Eventually, when I disconnect, over 30 people are listening to the first hand account (the person is actually on his cell phone standing on the beach of the bay) and asking questions.  I look back later and see the transcript of the conversation I was involved in online (and others) linked to other first hand accounts.   By this point, traditional media are following up their original story with quotes from these conversations.

This is the the third stage for Google in my opinion.  Imagine having access to a global network of real-time people in addition to the text, audio, video, search results, etc.  Imagine being able to connect all of the mobile phones in the world and the people who carry them each with their own unique skill set.  Now imagine a system that administers the searching for, verification of, payment of (optional), rating of, and transcribing for later use of this network.  Imagine the possibilities for education, for medicine, for government, for fun!

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“Rewilding” the political party system

What if we didn’t have two political parties?  What if we had a million parties?  What if we had one party?  What if the number and makeup of the parties changed in real-time?  What if party members could join, leave, merge, secede, delete, etc their parties as easily as they change clothes or even websites?  What if users were able to make a case for their views and support those views with evidence found online or put online?  What if other users could engage in debate/dialogue/reasoning to persuade others to join their party and vice versa?

What if we created a clean slate  or “rewilded” the political party system.  Everyone is an independent to start.  Anyone can create a party.  Anyone can join a party (but only one party at a time).  Anyone can leave a party and join another party.  A group of party members could decide to merge with another party or persuade another party to merge with their party.  A party could decide to change its name or views or not.  A party could decide to disband or delete itself.

What would be the point of this system?  Ultimately, to create a political system that the people want it to be, one that has its rules written by its constituents.  A system free of the shackles of the past (and tradition).  A system free of its corporate, union, and $$$ masters (of course anyone will be able to participate in this new system however).  It will start as a social and political experiment but could it eventually become more?  Could it influence real candidates?  Show them that the only safe harbors are not simply A or B.

This new system would be one of conversation not marketing (Cluetrain).  It would be open and nimble and owned by its users (currently reading What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis).  It would hopefully be a platform for true discourse.  A market of ideas.  A network of constantly changing niche networks (again Jarvis).  The antithesis of the talking heads in the mainstream media.  A system based in the ideals and values of the open source movement.  Currency would be information, ideas, and reputation.

The tools of this system would be the current and future social and construction tools that are being made possible by the Web and the current generation of internet companies.    News, information, and data shared thru Delicious, ad-hoc networks created on Facebook and Twitter, collaborative position papers and platforms hashed out and published in Google Docs, Audio and Video shared via Youtube and other sites, and new ways of cooperating in Google Wave.

We will need someone to launch this system.   We will need a person or group to set up the basic rules.  A group to build the basic functinality of the system and unleash it to the masses (and make sure it is open sourced and freely distributable).  From there it will need to be governed by a neutral body interested in refereeing, maintaining and even innvoating in a way that is lead by the users but that maitains fairness across the system.

I see no reason why this could not be done by a handful of political junkies, passionate human beings, AJAX coders, and some recession provided free time.  Anyone care to join me?

Mashup: Gmail and Twitter

I have to say that I still have mixed feelings about Twitter. On the one hand, I see it as a powerful tool harnessing the ideas of crowdsourcing. As a way to add email one-to-many and many-to-one functionality. On the other hand, I find it yet another fire hose of information coming at me at a time when I am not thoughtfully considering my other fire hoses. If it can become an asynchronous tool (not IM) to reach/leverage many people/thought leaders that is integrated into my personalized main knowledge tool of the time (Gmail), I am in! LINK

I see a few specific benefits of using Gmail as my Twitter client:

1) One tool for multiple modes of communication (email, IM, Tweets, voice-mail?, etc)
2) The ability to “thread” the tweets I follow (inherent to Gmail)
3) The ability to archive and search threaded tweets (some clients probably do this all ready???)

Can someone (Google? Other?) Make this happen, please.

Google Docs as my new Blog Editor!?

This is a test to see if I can use my Google Docs account as a way to post to my WordPress blog. This is only a test! I am using the “Publish to Blog” feature in Google Docs.

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This didn’t post originally….I am now in WordPress trying to publish. No publish button….lets try saving it and giving it a category and see what happens…

OpenOffice.org and Google Docs….the missing link

A free extension is now available to better connect OpenOffice docs and Google Docs.  After the extension is installed, one-click will upload your current OpenOffice doc into your Google Docs account.  I need to test more the specifics such as sharing and publishing within Google Docs, but this seems to be yet another nail in the coffin of the  MS Office monopoly.

More info

Link to extension

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gOS: Interesting but not intuitive

After reading about gOS and the $200 machines it comes on now selling at Walmart, I had to try it for myself.  I downloaded the torrent, fired up Azureus, burned the DVD, and tried it on my Dell 610.

Notes:

  • gOS is a custom version of Ubuntu with close Google integration (hence the g in gOS)
  • Instead of installed apps, much of the functionality is based around one-click access to Google’s suite fo web-services
  • Frees and open source OS

First impressions:

  • Clean interface
  • Not very intuitive
  • Couldn’t remove mounted drives from desktop
  • Unusual implementation of an OS X type doc (Apps on one side minimized apps/docs on the other)

Thoughts:

  • I love the integration of web apps and installed apps in the OS.
  • I think the GUI is to different from XP, KDE, Gnome, and not enough like OS X
  • Everything feels v1.0 because it is v1.0….I will save any more time playing with this distro for v2.0

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“Google, Apple and the future of personal computing’

This article by Nick Carr seems very seasonable and very reasonable.  This can’t make Microsoft happy.  I wonder where FLOSS fits into all of this???  Both Apple and Google use FLOSS software.  Will the system be closed (AppleTV, iPhone, etc) or will Apple and Google let the “community” have their say.  Time will tell.  Regardless, this article should be on anyones list who cares about what their computing environment will look like in the near future.