I remember Google's original motto of "Don't be Evil." I believed them,
because they backed up those words with actions. Their products were
open and interoperable. Where standards didn't exist, they wrote and
published them. They were principled, and consistently so.
Not any more.
It's been a slow slide from grace, but the final straw was them
half-assedly killing their formerly interoperable IM service, Google
Talk. Ironically, this happened the very same day their CEO decried
their competitors for not interoperating with open standards.
Why is this a big deal? Simple -- Network effects. Why are telephones
(and SMS), snail mail, and email so useful? Because anyone can
communicate with anyone else. XMPP was that for Instant Messaging, and
Google was its biggest champion. Unlike its competitors, the service
was federated, just like email. You could operate your own server and
still communicate with anyone else using the standard. Everyone had a
walled garden, but Google through their clout started kicking those
walls down. Until they changed their minds, using a set of bullshit
excuses ("oh, the standard wasn't keeping up with our needs" --
nevermind they had no problem extending said standard before, and
indeed, conveniently ignored many already-defined features they claimed
Now it's effectively dead, because not only has Google actively chosen
to wall their garden off, they did it in such a way that renders
communication with the outsiders useless -- you're told they're
available, but nothing gets through. No errors, just silently dropping
Why am I so pissed about this? My last two employers used federated
XMPP to talk to vendors and customers. One had independent servers, one
used Google Apps directly. And guess what? Now everyone who uses
google can still communicate, as can everyone who doesn't. but those
inside the wall can no longer talk to anyone outside.
What the fuck, Google? You just destroyed your primary value
proposition over your competitors. We don't want to socailize or "hang
out", we want to communicate with people we need to communicate with.
We need the tools to facilitate business. Heck, even Microsoft's
communication suites are fully federated (with XMPP!) these days.
I've had it. Google, which I had such high hopes for initially, is just
another Facebook now. Only they've done the Embrace, Extend, Extinguish
trifecta far more effectively than anyone else.
Today was my first day at the new job. They're using a combination of
Hosted MS Exchange and Skype for commnications. It's an utter mess,
slow, and won't scale much longer. I'm supposed to give some
recommendations on how to grow this cleanly, but what am I going to
recommend? Host everything ourselves (naturally) but should I fight for
open systems (standard SMTP/IMAP, CalDAV, XMPP, built on LDAP) or just
take the easy way out and recommend an all-encompassing Microsoft
After all, I have the only Linux desktop in the office. So what makes
the most business sense? Where's the value proposition fighting this
uphill battle? Not only to the business, but to me, personally? Heck,
would I honestly be better off just doing my Linux work in a Virtual
On that same note, I don't need Google to communicate. I run the server
that hosts my DNS, photos, web pages (ie this blog!), email, and IM
presence. RSS feeds adorn everything. It even does calendaring and
address books. I'm working on adding federated VOIP services next.
Everything built on open, federated, interoperable standards.
I started this before there was any real choice, but I've kept at it
because I believe in the principle that I should control my own data,
and not rely on the good graces of an increasingly-arbitrary third party
for my digital presence.
The big feature that Hangouts added over Talk was (far) better Google+
integration. But that presumes you actaully care about Google+. What
did Google+ offer me that I didn't already have? Or maybe I should
rephrase that. What did Google+ have to offer that they didn't just
arbitratily take away? (Aside from the ability to be a collosal waste
of time, that is...)
So, I've purged my Google+ profile, and told Google why when they asked.
It's a token gesture -- about as effective as farting into a hurricane.
Since my employer doesn't use Google services, I've also purged all but
the essentials from my Android phone; the stuff I personally find
useful. Which boils down to Voice (far better than my carrier's
voicemail system) and Maps (OSMand is catching up quickly though!)
It's a shame there aren't any meaningful alternatives to Android; while
I may be more than a little disgusted with Google these days, at least I
still have the ability to recompile the entire Android system from
scratch, and that's nothing to sneeze at. And as increasingly bad as
Google's garden walling is, it has quite a ways to go before it catches
up with its competition. If you can't beat them, join them. Or beat
them, then join them anyway.
Anyway. Time for bed. Maybe I'll wake up with a better idea about what
battles to fight.
Syndicated 2013-05-29 03:37:31 from Solomon Peachy