Don't Believe In Google's 'My World': Page 2

Posted September 26, 2007

Mike Elgan

Mike Elgan

(Page 2 of 2)

This is the problem with predicting Google projects. The company has its fingers in so many pies that it's spectacularly easy to imagine that they're going to tie them all together into a massive, futuristic, all-encompassing monster product.

What happens is that one anonymous rumor message-board post combined with two blog posts based on unnamed sources inspires hundreds of bloggers to speculate. Conventional news sources pick up the chatter and report it as “news,” and, before you know it, the whole thing seems real. But it’s really just a speculation echo chamber.

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And there's also some aspects of this grand vision that don't make sense:

• Google has never combined large numbers of disparate services into one mega-product. Sure, they integrated AdSense into Blogger, and Talk into Gmail. But these are very different from the speculative “My World” vision of three, four, five or more acquired products into one seamless environment. Google tends to be very limited and conservative with product integrations.

• In the summer of 2006, GigaOM said that Google Earth & Maps director John Hanke "flat-out denied that his team was working on avatar-oriented projects."

• The whole thing revolves around cute, cartoonish avatars. When's the last time Google did anything cute and cartoonish?

• What would be the benefit or appeal of using Google Earth -- a representation of the real world -- as the virtual environment in which avatars roam free? Would other people build a home where your real home is and where you would want your virtual house? Would people roam around in the Google Earth equivalent of their real towns, homes, schools and workplaces and, if so, what are the privacy implications? Social networks like MySpace and Facebook are already frequented by stalkers and pedophiles. What would be the advantage of a social network that identifies members’ by where they live, work and hang out?

Read the “news” about Google’s big “My World” project, but with skepticism. The truth is that we don’t know what Google is working on.

You can believe that Google is building a giant social virtual environment constructed from a half dozen Google properties. But be aware that as of right now, “My World” is built almost entirely out of sketchy facts, speculation and wishful thinking.

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