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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
With street protests in Iran effectively crushed, music, photography and painting are now leading the way in expressing a desire for change.
Ever since Google launched its new Google+ social network, we and others have pointed out that the search giant clearly has more in mind than just providing a nice place for people to share photos of their pets. For one thing, Google needs to tap into the “social signals” that people provide through networks like Facebook so it can improve its search results. But there’s a larger motive as well: as chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt admitted in an interview in Edinburgh over the weekend, Google is taking a hard line on the real-name issue because it sees Google+ as an “identity service” or platform on which it can build other products.
Schmidt’s comments came during an interview with Andy Carvin, the National Public Radio digital editor who has become a one-man newswire during the Arab Spring revolutions. Carvin asked the Google chairman about the company’s reasoning for pushing its real-name policies on Google+ — a policy that many have criticized (including us) because it excludes potentially valuable viewpoints that might be expressed by political dissidents and others who prefer to remain anonymous. In effect, Schmidt said Google isn’t interested in changing its policies to accommodate those kinds of users: if people want to remain anonymous, he said, then they shouldn’t use Google+.
But it was the former Google CEO’s remarks about the rationale for this policy that were most interesting: He didn’t just say — as Vic Gundotra, the Google executive in charge of the new social network has — that having real names maintains a certain tone of behavior that is more preferable to anonymous forums (an argument that online-community pioneer Derek Powazek has also made). According to Carvin, Schmidt said the reason Google needs users with real names is that the company sees Google+ as the core of an identity platform it is building that can be used for other things:
He (Eric) replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information.
As Union Square Ventures partner Fred Wilson noted in a blog post in response to Schmidt’s comments, this is an admission by the company that it wants to be an identity gatekeeper. Others have made similar observations since the launch of Google+. Programmer and online veteran Dave Winer, for example, said when the real-name policy first started to become a hot-button issue that Google’s purpose was clearly to “provide identity in a commerce-ready way. And to give them information about what you do on the Internet, without obfuscation of pseudonyms.” In his blog post, Fred Wilson said:
It begs the question of whom Google built this service for? You or them. And the answer to why you need to use your real name in the service is because they need you to.
As I tried to outline in a recent GigaOM Pro research report entitled “How social search is changing the search industry” (subscription required), there’s an obvious search-related rationale for launching a social network like Google+, since indexing and mining that kind of activity can help the company provide better “social search” results. But the real-name issue has more to do with Google’s other business: namely, advertising. Users who are anonymous or pseudonymous are arguably a lot less valuable to advertisers than those who choose to attach their real identities, including their age and gender, location and other demographic details to their accounts.
What kind of services is Schmidt referring to when he says that Google is looking at Google+ as an identity platform that could support other services? Dave Winer thinks that the company wants to effectively become a bank — something he also suspects that Apple and Amazon are interested in as well — and that’s definitely a possibility. Apple and Google both seem interested in NFC technology (near-field communication), which turns mobile devices into electronic wallets, and having a social network tied to an individual user’s identity would come in handy. Ross Dawson says Google wants to build a “reputation engine” using Google+ as a platform.
Whatever its specific interests are, Google clearly sees Facebook as a competitive threat not just because it has developed a gigantic social network with hundreds of millions of devoted users, but also because it has become a kind of identity gatekeeper — with tens of millions of those devoted users happily logging into other websites and services with their Facebook credentials, thus sending Facebook valuable data about what they are doing and where they are doing it. And the ubiquitous “like” button provides even more data, something Google is also trying to mimic with its +1 buttons.
The bottom line is that Google needs to have a horse in this identity race, and it has been unable to create one so far. The growth of Google+ provides a reason for people to create Google profiles, and that data — along with their activity on the network and through +1 buttons — goes into the vast Google cyberplex where it can be crunched and indexed and codified in a hundred different ways. And the more people who decide to do it, the better it gets, both for Google and for its advertising strategy. As the saying goes, if you’re not paying for it, then you’re the product being sold.
That’s the obvious background to the real-name issue, something Eric Schmidt has effectively confirmed with his remarks in Edinburgh. Whether users like the position that puts them in remains to be seen.
Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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“— The NSTIC, you, and me (and Google?)… | BonnieNadri.Com - 2011-08-29
(L)egal identity needs to be administrated in the online domain (which, contrary to what NSTIC and others seem to think, is not demonstrably proven), it remains that without the protections outlined in the “dotrights” campaign, the NSTIC effort is an incredibly dangerous movement for state managed identity as well as for citizens/consumers and their rights/interests. But don’t take my word for it, consider carefully the wording and implications of Mr. Messina:
“The last thing that I’ll add — which itself is controversial — is that this whole system, at least at the outset, will be voluntary and opt-in,” Messina says. “That means that if you don’t want the convenience of not having to use passwords anymore, you won’t have to. If you’re okay rotating your passwords and maintaining numerous discreet accounts across the web, that’s cool too. I don’t think a mandatory system would succeed — at least not without proving its security, stability, convenience, and utility over several years.”
I would point out that the current efforts by Google are, in fact, “entirely voluntary and opt-in”.
I would also point out that they have made it exceedingly clear that they are being driven by a yet-unexplained motivation that makes taking a “don’t like it, leave” stance attractive for Google.
I would further point out that Google’s CEO Schmidt himself stated that (paraphrasing), “Google+ is an identity service”; this is also supported by Google’s own site.
My assertions and conclusions at this point are, I think, things that you will find utterly logical:
- Google intends to be one (the first? the premiere? the only?) identity service for the USA.
- Google intends that their existing hold over users (adoption of services and products and related entrenchment thereto) be the weight brought to bear that ensures adoption rather than abandonment.
- Google intends that their ability to demonstrate adoption will allow them to leverage themselves, if not into the position of sole provider, then into a position of an elite few.
- Google intends to lobby and support our government in reaching a point of transition at which this “entirely voluntary and opt-in” identity service may become a mandatory one.
- Google is counting on YOUR continued use and willingness to adopt and endure any change they make to accomplish this.
Seem far fetched? Why? Messina is obviously thinking about it, the NSTIC is as well, thus Google, our Government, and who knows who else are thinking about it, too. Look at this and understand: There is not that much distance at all between Messina’s statements and the above assertions and conclusions and, frankly, that distance will close rapidly if Google is right about consumer apathy and passive adoption.
“ [...]— Dictionary of Stupidity « Solid gold creativity - 2011-08-29
"For me, the idiot isn’t content with just being wrong. He has to broadcast his error for all to hear. Idiocy is unbelievably strident. ‘We now know for sure that …’ followed by some utter rubbish."
(Gefunden bei ratak-monodosico)
→ Hierzu siehe auch:
Really amazing video! Wow!URBAN HACK ATTACK - EPISODE 1 http://t.co/4T73VbJ #mustsee #hacking...
Abdolreza Soudbakhsh, un médecin iranien a été assassiné, après avoir examiné ,des prisonniers qui furent assassinés en prison , et victimes de viols et de tortures, pendant la répression du soulèvement populaire, post électoral Iranien du Juin 2009 .On commence donc a évaluer ce qui gène la dictature, sur ces nouvelles révélations, concernant l’ampleur ces atrocités commises, contre ces prisonniers, dans le bagne de Kahrizak.
“— On Pseudonymity, Privacy and Responsibility on Google+ - TechnoSocial | 2011-07-27
This whole persona/pseudonym argument may seem like a tempest in a teapot, but the fact is, the forum for public discourse is no longer the town hall, or newspaper, or fliers on the street. It is here on the Internet, and it is happening in communities like this, hosted by private sector companies. Freedom of speech is not guaranteed in these places. As +Lawrence Lessig once said,"the code is the law." The code that Google applies, the rules they set up now in the software, are going to influence our right to speak out now and in the future. It is imperative that we impress upon Google the importance of providing users with the same rights (and responsibilities) as exist in the society that nurtured Google and brought about its success.
I'm going to try to summarize the discussion as I've seen it over the past few weeks. Since this is a long post (tl;dr), here's a description of what's coming so if you want, you can skip to the section that you're interested in.
Here lies the huge irony in this discussion. Persistent pseudonyms aren't ways to hide who you are. They provide a way to be who you are. You can finally talk about what you really believe; your real politics, your real problems, your real sexuality, your real family, your real self. Much of the support for "real names" comes from people who don't want to hear about controversy, but controversy is only a small part of the need for pseudonyms. For most of us, it's simply the desire to be able to talk openly about the things that matter to every one of us who uses the Internet. The desire to be judged—not by our birth, not by our sex, and not by who we work for—but by what we say.
Pseudonyms are not new to the computer age. Authors use them all the time. Our founding fathers used them. Anonymous and pseudonymous speech have been part of democratic society since its beginning. What is new is that more and more strangers, whom we have never seen and never spoken to, know our names. What is new is that a name, with just a few minor pieces of information (birthdate, friends names, employer, industry, town…) can in a few seconds provide thousands of personal details about who you are and where you live.
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