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Google- will soon own us.
February 10, 2010 6:47 PM   Subscribe

1 gig per second.... drooling yet?
posted by HuronBob (153 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
How long till Google faces the same break-up litigation as Microsoft? Getting more omnipotent, or at least omnipresent, all the time...
posted by glider at 6:49 PM on February 10, 2010


How long till Google faces the same break-up litigation as Microsoft?

I'm not sure, but a Google ISP service could eat kittens, smell like rotten fish, and run off the distilled souls of orphans, and it would still be better than Comcast. A
posted by hellojed at 6:53 PM on February 10, 2010 [44 favorites]


I don't even know how that speed would translate into my normal internet usage.
posted by Think_Long at 6:54 PM on February 10, 2010


Given the fact that I almost certainly don't live in one of the "very few" locations, not really. They expect to roll this out to 50 - 500k homes.

I guess "big" for Google means "up to 0.16% of the population"
posted by delmoi at 6:54 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh cool. Blu-Ray porn disc rips in 5 minutes or so.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:56 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


...just keep downloading shit inside of me.

Yeah I know he's actually uploading.
posted by griphus at 6:57 PM on February 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


I wake up in the morning and wonder..."what has Google given me today??? :) "
posted by HuronBob at 6:57 PM on February 10, 2010


"gig" usually refers to Gigabytes not gigabits.
posted by phrontist at 6:57 PM on February 10, 2010


I can't help it, I <3 google.
posted by empath at 6:58 PM on February 10, 2010


"gig" usually refers to Gigabytes not gigabits.

When you're talking about bandwidth, it's almost always in bits, not bytes.
posted by empath at 6:58 PM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh cool. Blu-Ray porn disc rips in 5 minutes or so

Ew. Is there really Blu-Ray porn? That is a seriously bad idea.
posted by nosila at 6:59 PM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Given the fact that I almost certainly don't live in one of the "very few" locations, not really

No kidding. I can't even get fiber yet. Heck, I'm limited to 128kbps on DSL.
posted by DU at 7:00 PM on February 10, 2010


Gigabit connection to the home/business would be the end of the traditional phone system, btw (along with IPv6). The main issue that causes problems with voip is bandwidth problems, and with gig e, you'd have enough bandwidth for hundreds of simultaneous HD calls.
posted by empath at 7:00 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


About the only interesting thing that you could do with this, if you're not going to use client side processing, would be sending uncompressed video. Once you can do that, you don't actually need any client side processing at all. You just load everything server side and use the client machine as a keyboard + screen.

In fact, you could even have super-high end rendering at a central location, so desktop 3D accelerators would become obsolete. That would be pretty interesting.

Another interesting idea would be to send virtual machines around the network. You could work on one VM, suspend it and send it over the network, and then bring another to your desktop to work on.

You could also completely remove the need for your own disk drive, you could conceivably mount a drive over the network, although the latency would be worse then a regular disk. Another idea might be instant, real-time backup of data on disk.
posted by delmoi at 7:01 PM on February 10, 2010 [19 favorites]


Think Gmail meets Cogent.
posted by Hoenikker at 7:01 PM on February 10, 2010


Anti-trust laws no longer have any teeth thanks to IBM and Microsoft. Google only approaches monopoly status in search. Google's moves like this one often attract love and adoration from the informed public. So an anti-trust case against Google would fail quickly while seriously undermining the credibility of the justice department.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:02 PM on February 10, 2010


The main issue that causes problems with voip is bandwidth problems

How is bandwidth a problem with VOIP? You can pretty much do voip with a standard modem connection, because it's compressed while an ordinary phone line is uncompressed. Youtube uses a hell of a lot more bandwidth then any VOIP app. In fact, lots of people video conference with AIM/MSN/etc.
posted by delmoi at 7:02 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


delmol..... you know, of course, that the rest of us are just thinking about the porn family videos aspect of this, right?
posted by HuronBob at 7:03 PM on February 10, 2010


I don't even know how that speed would translate into my normal internet usage.

At 1 gb/second it doesn't translate into your normal internet usage; your normal internet usage changes. If 1 gb/second or faster connections became possible for more than a tiny subset of the population it would be a change on the order of going from no internet to a DSL. All sorts of things would become possible.
posted by Justinian at 7:05 PM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Unfortunately given they plan to target between 50,000 and 500,000 people, I think it's fair to say that "Los Angeles" is not on the list. Doh!
posted by Justinian at 7:07 PM on February 10, 2010


How is bandwidth a problem with VOIP? You can pretty much do voip with a standard modem connection, because it's compressed while an ordinary phone line is uncompressed. Youtube uses a hell of a lot more bandwidth then any VOIP app. In fact, lots of people video conference with AIM/MSN/etc.

Try running a small office over that modem connection. You get 5 or 6 computers and phones on a 10 meg connection and you'll have quality problems all day long.
posted by empath at 7:09 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This would be sweet in principle, but honestly, the main thing I do on the internet is read MetaFilter and watch TV. Neither require more than my 10 mbps connection. I'm not sure what I would do with 1 gbps!

However, as usual, I'm sure once Google let's me know what I could do with 1 gbps, I will inextricably incorporate it into my life. I surrender myself as a pawn in Google's master plan.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:10 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The main advantage of a gigabit connection is going to be doing lots of things simultaneously early on, rather than individual things very quickly, because generally the connection on the other end isn't going to support anything close to that speed.
posted by empath at 7:11 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


This sounds really cool. But aren't there hardware/software limitations at the client end? If you have 1 gig/sec coming in, won't your machine have to deal with this (buffer/process at 1 gig/sec)?

I could also see the development of dedicated boxes that would deal with specific content (with new/custom/proprietary protocols) using these networks. Wireless/on demand/mobile hd tv for instance. Not that I would subscribe to it. That would be a start. Everything else will follow. People always find a use for bandwidth. Any aspect of our lives that can be digitized/streamed in real time could benefit from this, and Google will find ways to make money from it.
posted by carter at 7:15 PM on February 10, 2010


Ew. Is there really Blu-Ray porn?
I think it's a given that the earliest adopters of new technologies are pornographers.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:18 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


HuronBob: "... you know, of course, that the rest of us are just thinking about the porn family videos aspect of this, right?"

In that context "family video" has some implications you may not be intending.

If they can get the latency low enough, making music will change drastically - it is already possible to share lossless compressed audio - low enough latency could make some very interesting things happen (current methods tend to use lossy compression and delay other people's signal by 1 measure, which works, but only kind of).
posted by idiopath at 7:18 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


DU: "Heck, I'm limited to 128kbps on DSL."

And he's still made more than 11,000 comments. That's commitment.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:19 PM on February 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


And somehow they will find a way to make the uplink speed stay at 50kbps so your e-mail with three Word docs attached still takes an hour to send.
posted by briank at 7:20 PM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


I would not be surprised if Google offers this fantastic service in exchange for the ability to snoop on all of your traffic and serve highly targeted ads to you. It'll be opt-out, just like Web History and the various Google cookies, but most people won't bother.

It's interesting to see where Google might eventually take things. Google will run the pipe, your email, your RSS reader, your news reader, your video sharing site, your document storage, your picture sharing site, your home page, your blog, your social network, your phone, your voicemail, your ebooks, your online checkout system, your calendar, your maps...

It's kind of the mirror-image of 1990s-early 2000s Microsoft in a lot of ways. Microsoft really didn't care too much what people actually did with their computers as long as they ran Windows, Office, and Internet Explorer. Google, by contrast, doesn't really care what OS you use, what browser you use, or what office suite. But it cares very, very much about what you do with your computer, right down to the last click.

Google offers a pretty compelling ecosystem that grows more compelling by the the month, and right now they're doing a lot to make sure things are secure and private. But the prospect of an evil Google monopoly actually bothers me a lot more than the Microsoft monopoly ever did. I think there's a good chance it will all end in tears and antitrust suits.
posted by jedicus at 7:22 PM on February 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


You get 5 or 6 computers and phones on a 10 meg connection and you'll have quality problems all day long.

Holy shit, 10 megabits isn't enough for a small business anymore?!? What are you all doing, downloading torrents all day long? Even the highest rate VOIP call is 82kbps. With a 10Mbit connection you could run 121 of those calls simultaneously.
posted by mark242 at 7:22 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Latency is a function of distance, not bandwidth.

Your average round trip ping time from east coast to west coast is about 80ms, the minimum time you can make that trip directly if you're travelling at the speed of light is about 30ms. You're not going to see very much improvement in latency.
posted by empath at 7:24 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


How soon can we get this wonderful technology to Haiti?
posted by uosuaq at 7:26 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


"In that context "family video" has some implications you may not be intending."

I'm not the perv you think I am.... usually
posted by HuronBob at 7:27 PM on February 10, 2010


Hey guys, what if Google were to create zero latency by compressing the Earth into a single point in space? If anyone has the money to do that, it's Google.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:28 PM on February 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure what I would do with 1 gbps!

There are going to be a bunch of people who chime in with the old standby; VOD, downloading an album off iTunes like the server is sitting in your living room, etc etc etc.

But that's only half the benefit; a 1Gbps link will undoubtably have an extremely low latency. This is the important part of the equation. If your latency to, say, a web server run by Google is extremely quick, then the overall experience of doing your Google searches, or Gmail, or Buzz, or Wave, or what have you, is going to be much better, because again, it's like you're using a Gmail server sitting in your living room. That gets higher user adoption for Google, and more money for them.
posted by mark242 at 7:28 PM on February 10, 2010


Holy shit, 10 megabits isn't enough for a small business anymore?!? What are you all doing, downloading torrents all day long? Even the highest rate VOIP call is 82kbps. With a 10Mbit connection you could run 121 of those calls simultaneously.

Trust me, I work in VOIP, you will have problems, even with a 10 meg connection. You get a few people streaming radio or whatever, it happens. And when you're talking about cable, you're not actually get 10 megs most of the time, even though that's what they sell you.

10 meg ethernet is a different story, but hardly anybody has that.
posted by empath at 7:28 PM on February 10, 2010


jedicus, paranoid much?
posted by cellphone at 7:30 PM on February 10, 2010


But that's only half the benefit; a 1Gbps link will undoubtably have an extremely low latency.

You'll only have lower latency if what you're connected to is distributed geographically. Most of the time, even with dsl connections, latency is about as good as it's ever going to get. Latency will only jump up if you are actually out of bandwidth or your isp is traffic shaping.
posted by empath at 7:31 PM on February 10, 2010


What I find exciting is how this is sure to bring about a revolution in how we create, deliver, and consume soul-destroying advertising.
posted by swift at 7:32 PM on February 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'm not drooling, I'm appalled that anyone would be taken in by such a load of bullshit. Really Google is going to negotiate a franchise agreement, secure right of ways, setup the billing, customer service and local installer agreements/infrastructure, not to mention all the hardware to actually construct a fiber optic network. This is all going to happen in some magical time horizon of the next 36 months since of course if you already have FIOS or a cable modem you will probably achieve that bit rate based on hardware upgrades and expected technology life cycles. I suppose if you are in a rural area, or secondary market where these technologies have not been deployed you might be able to benefit from Google's largess, but you will have to win the Google lottery for this to happen, and you'll probably end up like Lusk, Wyoming who built a fiber optic cable to no where in the 1990s and got to be in a MS commercial, despite never powering the thing up. If Google were to actually execute an aggressive national broadband build out they would either be committing to a massive expenditure of capital with a ultra low return that would crash their stock, or building it on a mountain of pork using your tax dollars.
posted by humanfont at 7:33 PM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


one of the first comments I heard about this announcement was: when will this come to my home?

my first reaction to this announcement was: where do I need to move to?
posted by el io at 7:35 PM on February 10, 2010


To the people saying this is faster than they'd ever need, bullshit.

I want/need this. I just went up from a ~8mbps Comcast connection to a 60mbit connection here living in my Universities housing. It was shockingly amazingly fast for me for oh, about five hours. Things were faster, but now I just do more in the same amount of time. I download a 720p version of a TV show in the same time it used to take me to download a low-res version of the TV show. Big deal. It's still fricking 5 minutes to pull down some video. And I'm not even doing any high tech future shit yet.

1Gb internet gets that down to 12 seconds. Now we're talking. I'll be able to put off a hard drive upgrade and just store stuff on my server, my internet will be faster (but with poorer latency) than most hard drives. No good for primary storage, but this will be great for just random media, documents, and whatnot.
posted by floam at 7:41 PM on February 10, 2010


Looks like the mayor has tweeted that Portland is going to try to get in on it. I'm holding my breath.
posted by floam at 7:44 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the point here, is that, with the technology we have today, there's no reason that every urban area shouldn't have this type of service. I get suck-ass (can i say that??) cable internet in an area that is 15 miles from a major University. Not because we can't do it, but because, with a monopoly of cable internet, there is no reason they NEED to do it... they make the money with crappy service, why spend more..

the breath of hope is that Google has a major presence in Ann Arbor... perhaps they will love us enough to throw some glitter on us....

where is the nearest Google temple?
posted by HuronBob at 7:50 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, you'll have a hard time maxing out a 1Gbps connection, floam. Right now I have gigabit ethernet internally, and I can't usually get above 600-700Mbps copying a file (I'm pretty sure its the drives, they're "only" 7200rpm SATA2). But those limitations will change over time too, and it never hurts to have a little more than you need at the moment.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:50 PM on February 10, 2010


oh yes, and if we invent the bandwidth, the uses will come.
(think realtime 3d video conferencing, for starters, collaborative concerts (yes, latency, I know), etc, etc...

Like storage, cpu, and ram, when the world is given more bandwidth, it will use it.
posted by el io at 7:52 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


jedicus: "... the prospect of an evil Google monopoly actually bothers me a lot more than the Microsoft monopoly ever did."

Google makes, what, $6 billion in profit a year? The annual budget of the National Security Agency is classified but I bet it's more than that. And they're already running some program so heinous that even John Ashcroft couldn't stomach it.

All Google wants to do is rent my eyeballs.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:55 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's all a ploy to get the other broadband providers to improve their networks faster than the 30+ years it'll take them at their current pace. The biggest take-away from this is that Google has amazing PR and business strategists. Have they pulled out of China yet?

Truth is, for most things you won't see 1Gbps connections, because co-located servers are usually capped at much less. However, if you bought any networking/computer equipment in the past 5 years it more than likely has a Gigabit Ethernet port in it, so the hardware is there to support it. In fact, you could already be experiencing these amazing speeds right in your own home!
posted by o0o0o at 8:02 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am drooling for off-topic reasons.
posted by Mister_A at 8:09 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've so been waiting for this.

Scuse me a sec....

So Verizon, you wanna play rough? Hokay, -- say hello to my little friend.

I ♥ Google

posted by Skygazer at 8:13 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well this explains why Google bought up all that dark fiber a few years ago....
posted by strixus at 8:13 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would not be surprised if Google offers this fantastic service in exchange for the ability to snoop on all of your traffic and serve highly targeted ads to you.

Umm, this is what they do right now. This is their business model today. In a manner of speaking, of course -- you have to hit Google for them to start snooping on you. But AdSense is virtually everywhere at this point.

So, when exactly are the jackbooted thugs coming to take me away? Cause I want to make sure I have clean underwear.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:14 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought fiber-to-the-home was very expensive to the installer. Have you seen the equipment they use for a FIOS install? And Google is going to run all the infrastructure from scratch, and charge competitive rates? How is that supposed to work?
posted by smackfu at 8:16 PM on February 10, 2010


How is that supposed to work?

Google pixie dust.
posted by Skygazer at 8:19 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Google makes, what, $6 billion in profit a year? The annual budget of the National Security Agency is classified but I bet it's more than that.

Actually they made $13.1 billion in gross profit in the last 12 months and the NSA's budget circa 2004 was estimated at about $6 billion.

Also, the NSA and any unconstitutional programs it runs aren't for sale to the highest bidder via the stock market.

I don't think I'm being particularly paranoid. For example, I don't think it's especially likely that Google will turn evil any time soon. I just think they have a much greater (and growing) capacity for harm than Microsoft did. As a result I think Google should be subject to appropriate scrutiny. Look at what happened to Microsoft: it was given the benefit of the doubt until it had done undeniable harm to society but had so much money and influence by that point that it drew the antitrust suits out for over a decade and ended up with a comparative slap on the wrist. I'd rather we took a slightly more proactive, vigilant approach (and this applies to lots of companies, not just Google; NBC/Universal/Comcast is another one).

Umm, this is what they do right now. This is their business model today. In a manner of speaking, of course -- you have to hit Google for them to start snooping on you. But AdSense is virtually everywhere at this point.

AdSense is not on your corporate intranet. AdSense is not on FTP. AdSense is not on bittorrent. AdSense is not non-GMail email. AdSense is not on your NetFlix streams. There are all kinds of things AdSense is not privy to and really can't be unless Google runs the pipes.
posted by jedicus at 8:21 PM on February 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


"Google" is just lucky none of the letters in their name represents a common symbol for currency, or you best believe they'd be in for a satirizin'!
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:22 PM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hey guys, what if Google were to create zero latency by compressing the Earth into a single point in space? If anyone has the money to do that, it's Google.

They don't have to actually do it, just simulate it.

I love living in San Francisco, but it's frustrating that we can't get residential fiber because people apparently don't want the extra boxes on the sidewalks.
posted by troybob at 8:22 PM on February 10, 2010


ps Google is about to start working with the NSA. Really.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:28 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


In the '90s, there were a few last-mile solutions, specifically Covad and RCN, who were humiliated and run into the ground by quasi-monopolistic RBOCs and large-market Cable providers. Google isn't a small-dream hopefull who needs access to the telco's wiring closet to keep afloat - they're a multi-billion dollar networking behemoth who has been scarfing up all the dark fiber they can for the past few years.

Also, Google usually has a slow-and-steady rollout - they simply don't care about servicing all the users all at once. Remember how long the gmail beta ran for, and how tough it was to get an "invite"? They're doing it the same way for Wave and Buzz, too.

So, yeah, Google will build a massive infrastructure, and slowly start filling it out. Maybe a few DC and Austin suburbs to start, places with good demand and little credible competition... and once they get the bugs worked out, they'll tackle a larger-but-still-small metro area that lives and dies by its tech sector, say Rochester, MN or Buffalo. It may well be half a decade or more before all of the major population centers are serviced, and longer still for the boonies...

But this is Google. They are coming, and to think they're coming unprepared is ludicrous. Last-mile telecoms have been quasi-monopolies more interested in keeping their customers captive than in modernizing service. This is the direct result of opposing network neutrality... market expansion by an entity the RBOCs and cable companies can't push around.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:31 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


And Google is going to run all the infrastructure from scratch, and charge competitive rates? How is that supposed to work?

They'll do it to create a monopoly on the infrastructure. They'll make the cash back. If anyone can do this, it's Google. Maybe that purchase of YouTube wasn't so bad an idea after all - if you own the network and can drive your own content...

I'm not comparing Google to national socialism sneaking up on us or anything...but the pieces are coming together. Owning big bandwidth drivers and producing a phone and now laying the network...well, you're all going to be goosestepping in the following years whether you like it or not. Google will destroy Apple and iTunes if it can create, as delmoi indicated, server-side processing and own both the content providers, the service providers AND the entire back-end. Pretty soon your whole life is nothing more than peripherals - a phone and a monitor, maybe with a keyboard, mouse and printer.

They've been planning this all along. Really, this is the final act that pulls the run out from under everyone.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:36 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here in Korea, I've had uncapped-use 100Mbit to my house for the last 9 years or so, and it is splendid. With my wife and I sharing the connection (and she watches a lot of video-on-demand stuff from here and Japan and I torrent to excess), we're not bumping the top end of that yet, but I could imagine that sometime in the future, we might.

My biggest problem is latency, of course, with gaming, but it's only about 200ms to mid-US, so bearable. I wish there were a way around the speed of light.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:37 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hello, they don't have to create the infrastructure from scratch. -points to the article she linked above earlier- Dark fiber. Lots of it. Google bought it between 2004-2008ish. That sounds like infrastructure for a fiber network to me....
posted by strixus at 8:38 PM on February 10, 2010


mccarty.tim: "Hey guys, what if Google were to create zero latency by compressing the Earth into a single point in space? If anyone has the money to do that, it's Google."

That wouldn't work, mccarty.tim. Everyone knows where all that Gmail storage space is coming from.
posted by yiftach at 8:49 PM on February 10, 2010


For people mentioning that this is only good for uncompressed video: Uncompressed video is actually about the only thing it's not good for. At least not in HD. A 4:2:2 1080p stream, 8 bits per channel in 30 fps is just about 1Gb/sec without considering any overhead. Standard HD-SDI stream bitrate is 1.5 Gb/sec, very probably for this exact reason (and to allow 10-bit). 3Gb/sec HD-SDI (or dual-link) is required for 4:4:4/RGB.

So we'll still need some compression. Good news is, Blu-Ray maxes out at 36Mbits/sec, and 1080 video in h.264 or even MPEG-2 at those kinds of bitrates looks great. Considering you could easily run a few streams at four times that over a Gb connection without even denting other stuff that might be running, you have enough bandwidth for 3D, "Deep Color", extended gamut, or higher-than-HD resolutions.

So it's really good for video, just not uncompressed. But uncompressed is bullshit anyway, which is why almost no one uses it (mostly just for postproduction of things originating on film, but I wish we'd get around to standardizing on something compressed there too, it'd make my job a lot easier).
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:50 PM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Google" is just lucky none of the letters in their name represents a common symbol for currency, or you best believe they'd be in for a satirizin'!

Fucking Goog£€.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:55 PM on February 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


This all sounds like yet more reason never to leave the house. Would anyone like to come outside and go for a nice walk instead?
posted by twsf at 9:01 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a result I think Google should be subject to appropriate scrutiny. Look at what happened to Microsoft: it was given the benefit of the doubt until it had done undeniable harm to society but had so much money and influence by that point that it drew the antitrust suits out for over a decade and ended up with a comparative slap on the wrist. I'd rather we took a slightly more proactive, vigilant approach (and this applies to lots of companies, not just Google; NBC/Universal/Comcast is another one).

Okay, so we should be wary of Google because it's big. Gotcha. What are you proposing we do exactly? Punish them before they do something bad? Minority-Report-style? What else would this "vigilance" entail? You really think our 24-hour media and the army of slashdot nerds isn't paranoid enough at the moment to catch something bad when it happens?

I also don't understand why people keep speaking about Google as though it's a monopolist. Everything they've done so far has been in the exact opposite direction. They're constantly setting things up in ways that encourage competition. Android was created (and open-sourced) so that phones could compete freely. Companies can do what they want with it. They made their own phone to encourage the idea of phones that can be ported to different networks. They are making a data network to encourage other companies to do the same, and apparently are going to allow other ISPs to use their pipe. I just don't see anything wrong with any of that. How exactly are any of these things pushing us toward a situation where we have no choice but to use Google's services instead of someone else's, the way Microsoft did with its closed-source OS in the 90s? I'm not seeing the parallel.
posted by Xezlec at 9:03 PM on February 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Hello, they don't have to create the infrastructure from scratch.

Right, but there's a huge expense in running fiber to every house in a town, even if you own a dark fiber line that runs to it.

Look at how slowly FIOS was rolled out. My aunt in NJ had it five years ago, but it's still not available in most of the country.
posted by smackfu at 9:05 PM on February 10, 2010


I'm not comparing Google to national socialism sneaking up on us or anything...but the pieces are coming together. Owning big bandwidth drivers and producing a phone and now laying the network...well, you're all going to be goosestepping in the following years whether you like it or not.

I gotta be honest. If Google declared tomorrow that they were taking over the federal government and rewriting the constitution, I would at least hear them out.
posted by empath at 9:06 PM on February 10, 2010 [30 favorites]


This all sounds like yet more reason never to leave the house. Would anyone like to come outside and go for a nice walk instead?

Well duh. Clearly they're preparing for people to upload their brains into the grid. After that you won't even need a body, why bother with outside?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:10 PM on February 10, 2010


Okay, so we should be wary of Google because it's big. Gotcha. What are you proposing we do exactly? Punish them before they do something bad? Minority-Report-style? What else would this "vigilance" entail?

I'm proposing that the antitrust division of the Department of Justice do its job and make sure that Google doesn't abuse its dominant position in certain markets (web search, web advertising, maps) to enter new markets. And to make sure that Google doesn't abuse its dominant position to bundle services. Basically all the things that they were supposed to do with Microsoft and didn't until it was too late.

You really think our 24-hour media and the army of slashdot nerds isn't paranoid enough at the moment to catch something bad when it happens?

Our 24-hour media is worse than useless. The army of Slashdot nerds (and the pre-Slashdot Usenet equivalent) complained about Microsoft for years before anything was done about it, so they're pretty useless too. I'm asking for vigilance from the regulators that are a) tasked with the job and b) in a position of actual power.

How exactly are any of these things pushing us toward a situation where we have no choice but to use Google's services instead of someone else's, the way Microsoft did with its closed-source OS in the 90s?

Google could start slowly but surely closing off people's ability to get their data out of Google. Once people's entire lives are on Google servers and they can't easily get that data out, they're stuck. That's most of what kept people trapped with Microsoft: they were invested in Microsoft products, which weren't compatible with anything else; network effects took care of the rest (well, that and threatening OEMs that thought about installing anything else).
posted by jedicus at 9:13 PM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm not drooling, I'm appalled that anyone would be taken in by such a load of bullshit.
...
This is all going to happen in some magical time horizon of the next 36 months since of course if you already have FIOS or a cable modem you will probably achieve that bit rate based on hardware upgrades and expected technology life cycles.
...
If Google were to actually execute an aggressive national broadband build out they would either be committing to a massive expenditure of capital with a ultra low return that would crash their stock, or building it on a mountain of pork using your tax dollars.


While I share a lot of your skepticism, a few thoughts.
The odds of my monopoly cable and/or monopoly telco reaching speeds anywhere near a gigabit/sec are slim to none.
In fact, their main strategy seems to be clamping down on bandwidth usage while charging ever higher prices.

As far as roll out, etc, Google has been buying dark fiber for years now. It would not surprise me if the town chosen is already sitting on a pile of Google owned fiber, perhaps near one of their data centers for added economy and speed.

The biggest obstruction, as you say, will be local franchise agreements, but Google does have the cash to make sweetening the pot pretty easy. Free Google apps and bandwidth for the municipality?
posted by madajb at 9:14 PM on February 10, 2010


I gotta be honest. If Google declared tomorrow that they were taking over the federal government and rewriting the constitution, I would at least hear them out.

I might too, but I would expect the 'hearing out' to be followed by a lot of thoughtful consideration and criticism. Here we have Google offering a pretty amazing thing, but we shouldn't be so distracted by the promise of fat pipes for all that we don't consider the potential drawbacks. Often with Google (and other companies) it's easy to get swept up in the technology and ignore the risks.

Consider the iPad thread. There was certainly no shortage of folks pointing out the significant risks of non-general-purpose computing devices becoming commonplace. I personally felt that some of the concerns were overblown in Apple's case (for one thing, look at its marketshare; it's not dominant in any market except media players and in most markets it's a small minority), but it's always good to have the conversation.
posted by jedicus at 9:16 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


stavrosthewonderchicken: I wish there were a way around the speed of light.

It's interesting you say that. There are rumors that Google's been hoarding highly charged, super concentrated light particles from the North Pole and teaching them piggy back off one another to go faster than the speed of light.

You can watch a whole movie in a coupla seconds. Eventually, once the technology gets smoothed out, you'll be able to watch every single *Instant Watch* movie in Netflix, so fast you'll go back in time...

and get younger....
posted by Skygazer at 9:19 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, here's an interesting idea, with that kind of bandwidth, people could run their own web spiders, bypassing google. Of course, that would prettymuch kill every host out there. Heh. You could also have some kind of p2p index sharing.

Now, I doubt many people would actually be interested in doing that, but it's a possibility. Given the internet infrastructure you're going to be running against, the vast majority of which won't support gigabyte streams anyway -- applications that do a lot in parallel are going to be the only interesting apps out there for a while.

And of course, p2p would be pretty awesome.
posted by delmoi at 9:24 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


We have 50/20 Fios at my business, and NOTHING appears to use it. Once your speed's that high, you've exceeded the outbound throttling of virtually every website out there. No website is going to give you the full 50, or even half that. Download all you want, but you'll never get anything at anything near 50 Mbps. The only time I've really felt it in "real world" use is with BitTorrent.

So yeah, this sounds really great, but chances are, you'll probably not going to see even a fraction of the potential maximum speed.

(Yes, I know it's really 50/20 -- I own the joint. I've tested the speed on several different speed-testing sites, and I'm getting what I'm supposed to be getting. And no, it's not throttled internally since, like I said, I own the joint.)
posted by CommonSense at 9:33 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]



In fact, you could even have super-high end rendering at a central location, so desktop 3D accelerators would become obsolete. That would be pretty interesting.

Not at a gigabit. Think, I've got 1920x1200x32 = 7372800 bits per frame. To run an app (a game say, or even a movie) at only(!) 30 frames per second, has me doing 2211840000 bits per second of data transfer. This would provide nearly half the bandwidth necessary - assuming there was no overhead at all.

And that's a big assumption. At a frame size of 1500, packet metadata can make up to almost 40% of the data transferred. Throw in latency, lost or late or mangled packets and the realized data rate goes down even more. (sure, you could bump the frame size up, but then every device on that segment has to support it, or you'll get framing errors.)

My 3d card isn't going anywhere soon.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:38 PM on February 10, 2010


Google could start slowly but surely closing off people's ability to get their data out of Google. Once people's entire lives are on Google servers and they can't easily get that data out, they're stuck.

Unlike other vendors, Google has gone out of its way to let you easily get your data out.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:42 PM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


I wish there were a way around the speed of light.

While there is no way around the speed of light, it seems to me right now the hardware is adding significant latency ontop of things. According to Wolfram Alpha, light in fiber takes only about 40ms to make it from here to Seoul. We've got a good ~160ms (obviously a bit less since things need to bounce around the US a bit until it finally makes it to my bedroom, but you know what I mean) to trim off with better technology.
posted by floam at 9:44 PM on February 10, 2010


Unlike other vendors, Google has gone out of its way to let you easily get your data out.

I know it has, which is one of the major reasons I said that I don't think Evil Google is likely to happen any time soon. It's also why I said one possible route to evil is that Google might slowly but surely change that policy.
posted by jedicus at 9:48 PM on February 10, 2010


Unlike other vendors, Google has gone out of its way to let you easily get your data out.

I'm familiar with that, but the problem becomes "what do you do with it once you've got it." At least if you have desktop applications, you can at least always read your data, assuming you can still install the original app -- which isn't always so easy.
posted by delmoi at 9:50 PM on February 10, 2010


There was certainly no shortage of folks pointing out the significant risks

Apples and oranges. The iPad is about market monopoly right now or within a year or two, just as are the other Apple consumer products. This seems to be more of a technology demonstration or testbed for possible future applications. It makes perfect sense for Google to want a laboratory community for the net 10 or 15 years from now. I don't think it's obvious from this that Google wants to be everyone's ISP.

When Google does have a plan to blow all the incumbent telephone, cable and data companies away, then there will be much more cause for concern. For a research project? Meh.
posted by bonehead at 10:00 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't even know how that speed would translate into my normal internet usage.

It wouldn't.

It would, however, give Google sweet leverage to be even more aggressive with Google apps; "Fire all your IT workers, get rid of your Windows desktops, use thin clients to our data centres. You trust your advertising agency with all your data, right?"

Well, they won't say the last bit, of course.
posted by rodgerd at 10:03 PM on February 10, 2010


The simple fact is, this is Google doing something good for the consumer and good for itself.

There's an important history to this, and it dates back to the Telecommunications Act of '96, in which phone companies were allowed to compete nationally for long distance, in exchange for opening their networks. This allowed DSL companies to start competing against the Baby Bell's own antiquated T-1s, which they often charged up to $1000 for. So, when they started offering the same service for $70 or so, it made waves for the highend users.

The big issue, though, was how to make DSL competitive for most consumers. To do that, it would have to be a significantly better service than dial-up, in the sub-$30 price range.

This was done through changing the way service was offered. Previous DSL service was installed with static IP addresses, with each installation usually requiring several different service calls... service calls for outside wiring, where the DSL service would arrange to meet up with the Baby Bell's technicians. Service calls for wiring from the local Central Office for the Baby Bell. Service calls for installation... which oftentimes discovered problems with interference on the line... which would require another service call to fix the line in question so it would be suitable for DSL. And maybe another, final installation service call. Given all the labor costs involved with all the service calls, the early $70 a month cost for DSL was pretty understandable, really.

What changed things wasn't technological advance, really... it was systems automation. (I did some of this kind of work at Covad, during the late '90s.)

Orders would come in electronically to the system from various partners, and would proceed through an automated flowchart. The lines in question would be verified in an automated manner, tested in an automated manner, any discrepencies solved... in an automated manner. Lines provisioned from the Baby Bells, in an automated manner. Appointments made or rescheduled... "self install" DSL modems shipped... all in an automated manner. Covad got installation down to sometimes as little as two human "touches" involved in an installation, oftentimes with no truck rolls required... and if they were required, it was done with automated scheduling, which would make the average technician's day far more productive, by minimizing travel time and increasing efficiency.

This allowed DSL to break the $20 per month barrier, which ultimately led the Baby Bells to start offering cut-rate DSL for less than dial-up used to cost, and sometimes around 1/50th of the price that the same companies would charge for slower T-1 service just a decade earlier. These low prices also forced cable broadband to lower their prices to what consumers were willing to pay.

The problem is, the FCC under the Bush adminstration basically sold out the public. Line sharing at a reasonable rate was no longer required. The independent DSL providers were basically charged way too much for line access in order to compete. This led to a friendly truce in pricing and competition between cable and DSL, with both charging what the market would bear. Meanwhile, the rest of the industrialized nations rolled out widesperad, affordable fiber optics broadband while we were sleeping.

Google clearly looks at this status quo as something that's not only holding the nation back, but holding back their own web-based offerings. That's why this Google rollout of broadband is potentially so important. It allows them to not just hook up some houses to fast internet. If done right, and targeted near the major population centers where the early adopters live, it will allow them to drive change like Covad did in the '90s, or like @Home helped drive companies like Comcast into the market, despite only reaching a couple million customers in the US.

The real issue isn't digging ditches in some agreeable, amenable sleepy suburb somewhere for PR purposes. It's attacking the heart of the matter... how to affordably provision fiber, not only in a network, but to the home. They'll need to look to the lessons learned from the DSL companies in order to pull it off at a reasonable cost. They'll need to automate, automate, automate. They'll need to stick it out as long as possible, because it won't be profitable for possibly well over a decade.

IF they make a big enough splash, and IF their open access ideas invite a new breed of independent companies offering affordable fiber broadband, then they could force the phone and cable companies to start rolling out competitive highspeed broadband offerings.

The idea for Google isn't to dominate the highspeed broadband market. It's to force and goad others to do it, while simultaneously making themselves the earlybirds in offering up innovative new services to run on the network of the future.

The real winners will be the consumers.
posted by markkraft at 10:09 PM on February 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


Yeah, 1Gb/s (which ethernet/IP will get only about 30% out of, but anyway) is roughly the same speed as the old PCI bus, about twice as fast as USB 2. It's much slower than the modern PCI-X and SATA bus speeds. High-resolution graphics isn't possible and storage would be like using a (sluggish) external usb drive. It has all kinds of interesting possibilities, but it's not hollowing out the PC, not quite yet.
posted by bonehead at 10:13 PM on February 10, 2010


It would, however, give Google sweet leverage to be even more aggressive with Google apps; "Fire all your IT workers, get rid of your Windows desktops, use thin clients to our data centres. You trust your advertising agency with all your data, right?"
Well, google also makes these apps for IT. Everyone likes gmail, google docs, etc for personal use but it makes a lot of sense from an IT perspective.

Really you have to wonder what exactly the point of everyone maintaining their own IT people to all do the same things is. But I'm not sure exactly what kind of Google office app would ever need a gigabit connection. Even a video editor wouldn't need that much, since it would presumably be able to compress video for user display.

I wasn't quite right about uncompressed HD, but lightly compressed HD would still be fine. Mix it with something like RDP/VNC and you're good to go (you could even get lossless compression for a lot of activities). You don't need anything beyond a thin client.

Interestingly, OpenGL was actually designed as a network protocol. It wouldn't be too hard to split up the work between local and remote machines over a gigabyte network. Actually, they're selling external graphics cards for your laptops now. The lag might be to slow for actually rendering to the screen, but you could probably compute textures server side.

Or, even more interesting, going the other way and using people's GPUs for scientific computing.
posted by delmoi at 10:14 PM on February 10, 2010


While there is no way around the speed of light, it seems to me right now the hardware is adding significant latency ontop of things.

Yeah, good point. Lots of hops between here and wherever.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:15 PM on February 10, 2010


So yeah, this sounds really great, but chances are, you'll probably not going to see even a fraction of the potential maximum speed.

I'm actually more interested in the intra-network speed since, as you say, not many places can deliver content that fast.

On the other hand, if I could transfer things between work/home/neighbors at close to gigabit speeds, it opens up a whole new realm of usage.
Things that aren't possible with my current provider who, for some idiotic reason caps upstream intra-network at the same rate as to the internet at large. So I am stuck transferring to the house next door at the same speed I transfer to a server halfway across the globe.
posted by madajb at 10:16 PM on February 10, 2010


It's also why I said one possible route to evil is that Google might slowly but surely change that policy.

Well, as someone mentioned above, you can't really punish them for things they haven't done yet, and they don't have a monopoly on anything. So it seems premature to discuss regulation or other governmental constraints until they actually do something that needs regulating.

I'm familiar with that, but the problem becomes "what do you do with it once you've got it." At least if you have desktop applications, you can at least always read your data, assuming you can still install the original app -- which isn't always so easy.

You can export your mail to whatever mail client you want using IMAP or POP3. You can export Google docs, spreadsheets and presentations to their MS Office alternatives or to PDF. You can export Calendar to anything that understands iCal, CalDAV, or to Exchange via ActiveSync. You can export voicemail from Google Voice in MP3 format. Etc, etc, etc.

It would, however, give Google sweet leverage to be even more aggressive with Google apps; "Fire all your IT workers, get rid of your Windows desktops, use thin clients to our data centres. You trust your advertising agency with all your data, right?"

If you're paying for Google's services, you don't get ads. Google is serious about getting into the enterprise space, and therefore serious about being (or appearing to be) a trustworthy place to store your enterprise data.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:18 PM on February 10, 2010


We have 50/20 Fios at my business, and NOTHING appears to use it.

I'm glad for you that's available.
DC tried to make FIOS available, and my understanding is Verizon said FU. Maybe Google will be more responsive. For all the responses above about how this would only be beneficial in the middle of nowhere (relatively speaking), I think you're mistaken about the monopolies being granted in major US cities.
posted by inigo2 at 10:21 PM on February 10, 2010


High-resolution graphics isn't possible and storage would be like using a (sluggish) external usb drive. It has all kinds of interesting possibilities, but it's not hollowing out the PC, not quite yet.

But think about it, rather then slicing down the middle of the application, you slice out the end. The only thing you do on the client side is display an image, and for most desktop applications, even with compressed video, you can do it pretty convincingly. Ideally you could could make things like button presses and so on happen on the client side to hide the minor lag, like old-school XWindows. You can actually watch youtube videos over RDP, for example.

Anyway, the future of computing is actually kind of getting exciting. I actually found a use for Amazon EC2 and renting their smallest compute nodes costs just 3¢/hr if you use their 'spot pricing' And that gets me a 250mb connection right there. But I'd love to have a gig-E connection at home. But I'm not really sure what people are going to do with it beyond p2p apps. We'll see what happens, I guess.
posted by delmoi at 10:26 PM on February 10, 2010


Yeah, 1Gb/s (which ethernet/IP will get only about 30% out of, but anyway)

Seriously? I'm routinely hitting 60-70% of theoretical max on IP over GbE at the office, and it's a cheap (400 dollar) Dell switch and not particularly good or server-class network cards. So this seems very much on the low end.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:32 PM on February 10, 2010


Heh... I live about 10 miles outside a small city with a university and still get -exactly- the same DSL bandwidth I got at a nearby place 10 years ago..... 300-500 Kb/s on AT&T copper wire. Maybe Google will fix things up real nice in Silicon Valley and Brooklyn, but I'm not holding out for any improvements around here in the 2010s.
posted by crapmatic at 11:12 PM on February 10, 2010


1 gig per second ...

Bah. 640K should be enough for anybody.
posted by JackFlash at 11:20 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


All Google wants to do is rent my eyeballs.

So now we're just negotiating the price. j/k
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:32 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm not worried about Google doing wrong by us because it says "Don't be evil" right on the tin.
posted by pmbuko at 11:40 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


In fact, you could even have super-high end rendering at a central location, so desktop 3D accelerators would become obsolete. That would be pretty interesting.

My 3d card isn't going anywhere soon.
"OnLive is a gaming-on-demand game platform, announced at the Game Developers Conference in 2009. The service is a gaming equivalent of cloud computing: the game is synchronized, rendered, and stored on a remote server and delivered online. The service was announced to be compatible with any Windows PC running Windows XP or Windows Vista, or any Intel-based Mac running OS X and on smartphones. A low-end computer, as long as it can play video, may be used to play any kind of game since the game is computed on the OnLive server. For that reason, the service is being seen as a strong competitor for the console market. Steve Perlman states that a 1.5 Mbps connection will be needed to display games in SDTV resolution (typical output of Wii and previous generation console titles) while 4-5 Mbps will be needed for HDTV resolution, such as those output by the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The average broadband connection speed in the US at the end of 2008 was 3.9 Mbps, while 25% of US broadband connections were rated faster than 5 Mbps."
-wp
posted by niles at 11:56 PM on February 10, 2010


OnLive is pretty much recycled thin-client bollocks in anything but the most restrictive and tightly controlled circumstances. It's just plain silly now. In five or ten years, though, maybe not so much.

It's another step towards software as service, with the primary motive being ongoing revenue stream generation, even if companies claim otherwise. I'm not so keen on that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:11 AM on February 11, 2010


I can't help it, I <3>

I also cannot. I "disembodied balls" Google so hard.

posted by SinisterPurpose at 3:01 AM on February 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Dear Google.

I read my mail through Gmail. I read most websites on Google Reader. You own Youtube, where I head to for the silly and the music videos. I chat and speak with people on Google Talk. When I need to confirm the spelling of a word in a foreign language, I go to Google translate. I used to have a blog on Blogger. Just yesterday, you entered my inbox with your new toy, Buzz. Which is (honestly) a lamer version of Friendfeed, minus the privacy options (everyone sees everyone's profile! By default! Wheeee! no, seriously, WTF?). It's just I'm not in the US or I'd be probably using Google Voice, too.

What's next, Poland?
posted by _dario at 3:45 AM on February 11, 2010


How long till Google faces the same break-up litigation as Microsoft?

How about we hold up on the GUBMINT NEEDS 2 BRAK UP GOOGLE! talk until they actually start sucking? OK?

Christ, you people. Now it's just the potential for sucking and the knees starts jerking. Like going out with a girl that's been dumped too many times and starts being all, "DON'T LEAVE ME!" on the second date.

Chill, bitches.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:30 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


you're all going to be goosestepping in the following years whether you like it or not

Googlesteppingbeta
posted by kirkaracha at 5:51 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


...until they actually start sucking?

Well, that was quick
posted by dng at 5:57 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


until they actually start sucking?

OTOH, I don't really see why we should all still applaud because Google is getting into yet another business.
posted by smackfu at 6:18 AM on February 11, 2010


Well, as someone mentioned above, you can't really punish them for things they haven't done yet, and they don't have a monopoly on anything.

Google has a dominant position in the web search, web advertising, and video sharing markets. It won't be long before they are also dominant in maps. For antitrust purposes it can often be sufficient to abuse market power; a true monopoly is not necessarily required.

So it seems premature to discuss regulation or other governmental constraints until they actually do something that needs regulating.

Good thing I was just talking about vigilance and observation, not regulation or governmental constraint, then.

How about we hold up on the GUBMINT NEEDS 2 BRAK UP GOOGLE! talk until they actually start sucking? OK?

Same thing here. I never said "on the basis of its current actions, Google should be broken up." I said the government should keep an eye on things because Google is starting to gets its fingers in an awful lot of pies.

And to anyone who doubts that a good company could turn evil quickly, just look at how few years it took HP to go from one of the most respected companies in the business not only for technology but also for product quality and the way it treated its workers ('the HP way') to just another faceless corporation willing to do anything to make a buck.'
posted by jedicus at 6:33 AM on February 11, 2010


Google could start slowly but surely closing off people's ability to get their data out of Google.

Or they couldn't. Why surely? Are you an Oracle?

Once people's entire lives are on Google servers and they can't easily get that data out, they're stuck.

Why can't they easily get that data out? How are people's entire lives going to be on Google?
posted by juiceCake at 7:04 AM on February 11, 2010


Google network will be open access, meaning third-party service providers will be able to use it to deliver Internet to their customers. In this way, Google is trying to bring back discarded open-access rules that used to require incumbent telecom companies such as Verizon and AT&T to allow ISPs such as Earthlink to buy space on their DSL broadband networks at discount prices. Before the Federal Communications Commission tossed out these open-access rules in 2005, incumbent carriers would typically wholesale access to their networks to other ISPs that would compete with each other to sell Internet services to consumers and businesses.

Does their evil know no bounds?
posted by juiceCake at 7:08 AM on February 11, 2010


Or they couldn't. Why surely? Are you an Oracle?

I'm not saying it will surely happen. I'm saying that if Google turned evil it would most likely be a slow but inexorable process. That is, that once started down that path it will likely not stop. Very few companies do a voluntary about-face towards more openness, privacy protection, etc. Usually it takes a scandal, lawsuit, or regulation.

Why can't they easily get that data out?

Have you ever had a webmail account with, say, Hotmail or Yahoo? Just how would you go about getting all of your mail out of those services? Currently Google provides services for getting your data out (that is, both copying your data and deleting it from Google's servers). They could stop offering those services, make them cost money, only provide the data in closed formats, etc, etc. There are lots of possibilities.

How are people's entire lives going to be on Google?

Google can currently store your email, calendar, contacts, documents, photos, videos, source code, browser bookmarks, RSS feeds, voicemail, calling records, etc. Soon it may also handle your social networking. For most people, that's pretty much their entire lives, or at least as much as can be readily digitized.
posted by jedicus at 7:27 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd just like to know when some of this tasty bandwidth is going to reach those of us who don't live in urban centers. He said, over his 1000ms latency capped-at-500MB-per-day oversubscribed-to-the-point-of-uselessness-at-peak-hours satellite connection.
posted by ook at 7:35 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I still think the best solution is for towns to lay the "last mile" of fiber, just as they do for things like sewers & fresh water (I know, some people still have septic/wells). Once this is completed, towns can setup their own provider or lease the cable to the big providers. In fact, a town in NC did this already, it was on the blue somewhere (the local providers were trying to push through state legislation making this illegal).

Ideally, google would figure out the best/cheapest way to do this, and then work as contractors for any town that wants it. They could do it for little to no profit, given the long-term benefits the company thinks high-speed connections would generate.
posted by ShadowCrash at 7:42 AM on February 11, 2010


Yessssssss, can finally upload my soul.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:44 AM on February 11, 2010


If you're paying for Google's services, you don't get ads. Google is serious about getting into the enterprise space, and therefore serious about being (or appearing to be) a trustworthy place to store your enterprise data.

Google is very, very serious about this. I'm in the process of helping one of our clients migrate from Exchange to Google Apps. It's going to cost them $50 per user per year. They're delighted. I'm delighted. The import routines are top notch. Their documentation is beautiful, and yes, as a paid customer you don't get any ads in any of the services.

It already works pretty damn good over today's internet connections. Offering this over their own network would kill Microsoft.
posted by odinsdream at 8:29 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder where I fit in in Google's plans for us.
posted by The Whelk at 8:37 AM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Google is very, very serious about this. I'm in the process of helping one of our clients migrate from Exchange to Google Apps. It's going to cost them $50 per user per year. They're delighted. I'm delighted. The import routines are top notch. Their documentation is beautiful, and yes, as a paid customer you don't get any ads in any of the services.

As someone who has already done this kind of rollout -- twice -- I can say that the GApps are pretty decent. You do have to get people to think about labels instead of folders. (And it doesn't help that Google themselves have started to soften on this, and started calling labels folders, and that you can 'drag' messages from a listing to a label/folder as a UI mechanic. There are a couple of areas where they don't match the features of Exchange/Outlook (lack of a true shared address book; there are third parties offering plugins (for a fee)).

But overall, there are two areas that Google completely sucks at: 1) Actual human support. (Their email support is a joke (slow to get an initial response, explain your issue multiple times, get a 'huh, that's weird' response, and no follow-up), and their phone support is incompetent in my experience.) 2.) Documentation. There are forums where the unwashed masses people ask questions/complain, and there is a small amount of Google-generated help pages, but they are rarely kept up-to-date. So what you get is a what-you-thought-would-be-helpful page but the UI elements have been renamed in the actual control panel.

All of this being said, if you have vanilla needs, GApps are worth considering.
posted by Wild_Eep at 8:50 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't really see why we should all still applaud because Google is getting into yet another business.

How about because up to this point, everything they've done with their vast knowledge base they've released for free? Free email, free data storage, free mapping software (both GMaps and GEarth), free 3D modeling software, free (very good) translation software, free books, free website statistics, free financial info, free all this shit, everything free.

I mean, yeah, you could probably find some vendor to provide you with something similar (for each different application), but you'll still have to deal with the same privacy concerns, it'll just cost you more.

I'll take Google, thanks.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:02 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, that was quick
posted by dng


Your example of Google sucking, while mildly upsetting, is in no way relevant to Google being a monopoly or the like. One subsection of Google, deleting 6 music blogs who didn't deserve it, seems to be a rather minor mistake. It was likely the work of a very small number of employees who made this decision, and is likely to be overturned. According to the article you linked, it even appears that Google may have violated their own policies "DMCA notices would not result in the instant deletion of offending blogs. Instead, individual posts would be temporarily removed, with a prominent notice to help bloggers respond to the allegations." The fault of this situation primarily lies with the awful DMCA, and with the record companies or their lawyers who are apparently sending out wrong DMCA noticies (this could be fixed if people were fined for sending DMCA notices that were incorrect, thus causing them to perform due diligence rather than spamming DMCA notices). Google is a huge company which of course will make some mistakes towards individuals that damage them in unexpected ways. This event does not define the entire company.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:17 AM on February 11, 2010


I wonder where I fit in in Google's plans for us.

Google is very, very serious about this.

Now lie back while the hooks do their work.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:33 AM on February 11, 2010


I'm envisioning more of a probulator myself.
posted by The Whelk at 10:35 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


This event does not define the entire company.

They delete content from YouTube with regularity, when receiving DMCA or other legal notices from record companies and politicians, and have suspended user accounts for performing covers. I'm not sure this defines the entire company, either, but the point is that Google is friendlier with corporate and political entities who want content removed or hidden, than with individual users.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 AM on February 11, 2010


Now lie back while the hooks do their work.

And don't worry. We all cried the first time.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:57 AM on February 11, 2010


I'm not saying it will surely happen.

Then I misunderstood the meaning of the word surely, used repeatedly. I'll have to look it up at dictionary.com.

Why can't they easily get that data out?

Have you ever had a webmail account with, say, Hotmail or Yahoo?


Yes, but they are not Google. They are Hotmail and Yahoo. I use Google for personal and business accounts. Full IMAP or POP functionality, just like any other email account.

Just how would you go about getting all of your mail out of those services?

Don't know, don't need to, don't care. What have they to do with Google?

Currently Google provides services for getting your data out (that is, both copying your data and deleting it from Google's servers). They could stop offering those services, make them cost money, only provide the data in closed formats, etc, etc. There are lots of possibilities.

Of course there are lots of possibilities. The likeliest is that they won't be doing anything of the sort and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. They already offer premium services for money. Pulling their free services is within their right, but I don't believe for a moment they'd do so willy nilly without any warning (and a take down of blogs for violating terms is not an example that is relevant). What happens if I have email with my ISP and they go bankrupt? What happens if my email account with my ISP, with Google, with Microsoft, with Apple is compromised and my email is deleted? I can list a whole lot of what ifs and may, and maybes but the current model is working well for Google and there is nothing to indicate it will change much, if at all, other than offering even more services. What if the world ends tomorrow?

How are people's entire lives going to be on Google?

Google can currently store your email, calendar, contacts, documents, photos, videos, source code, browser bookmarks, RSS feeds, voicemail, calling records, etc. Soon it may also handle your social networking. For most people, that's pretty much their entire lives, or at least as much as can be readily digitized.


I disagree. Perhaps I have more of a life? Google isn't in my food, my restaurants, my condoms, my car, my family, my banks, my personal life, etc.
posted by juiceCake at 11:05 AM on February 11, 2010


Google isn't in ... my condoms.

I should hope not.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:50 AM on February 11, 2010


I've got Yahoo! in my pants.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:03 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you see my restraint here people?
posted by The Whelk at 12:04 PM on February 11, 2010 [3 favorites]



No drooling here... Great to think about, and I'd love it, but, where I live (and it's only 35 miles outside Chicago), it won't be available here for 30 years, if ever. Even then it will cost 10 times what I'd be willing to pay.

I doubt this will be widespread and truly affordable here before my ten year old niece's 30th.

South Korea, on the other hand? They'll probably have speeds ten orders of magnitude faster even in their homeless shelters within five years.

Oh well. At least I don't have to be worried about being shelled by the NORKs at any moment.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:20 PM on February 11, 2010


I'm not sure what I would do with 1 gbps!

Netflix Instant Download could actually be instant -- good enough for me.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:31 PM on February 11, 2010


Then I misunderstood the meaning of the word surely, used repeatedly. I'll have to look it up at dictionary.com.

No, you misunderstood the meaning of the phrase "slowly but surely" used in a conditional sentence. I said, essentially, "If Google turns evil, it will be by slowly but surely doing X." Nothing about that sentence indicates a belief that Google will surely turn evil. Especially in the context of my explicitly stating that I didn't think Evil Google was likely any time soon, I have a hard time believing you aren't deliberately misreading my statements.

Don't know, don't need to, don't care. What have they to do with Google?

You asked for an example of how Google could lock users into its services and I gave one.

I can list a whole lot of what ifs and may, and maybes but the current model is working well for Google and there is nothing to indicate it will change much, if at all, other than offering even more services.

Nothing to indicate that it will change except, you know, the fact that virtually all large corporations eventually turn towards blindly maximizing shareholder value without regard to their customers. Your view of corporate behavior is naïvely optimistic.

I disagree. Perhaps I have more of a life? Google isn't in my food, my restaurants, my condoms, my car, my family, my banks, my personal life, etc.

I specifically said "as much as can be readily digitized." But if you have some kind of digital condom we'd all love to hear about it, I'm sure. It's true that banking can be digitized and Google does not offer banking services, but Google is involved in people's finances through Google Checkout and Google Finance. It knows (some of) what people buy and what stocks they look at.

I'd also argue that things like family and personal life often take the form of email, chat, voicemail, phone calls, calendaring, photo sharing, video sharing, blogging, and social networking, all of which Google offers. Google also knows the kinds of restaurants, recipes, and cars you search for.
posted by jedicus at 2:25 PM on February 11, 2010


Blazecock (?) Pileon: I've got Yahoo! in my pants.

Big deal. I've got Yo Yo Ma in my pants.
posted by Skygazer at 3:00 PM on February 11, 2010


I've got Yo Yo Ma in my pants.

Is he fiddling around down there?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:29 PM on February 11, 2010


Blazecock Pileon: "Is he fiddling around down there?"


No, he's playing the cello, obviously.
posted by idiopath at 4:58 PM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Google also knows the kinds of restaurants, recipes, and cars you search for.

No they don't. They may know that people using their services search for spicy tomato sauce more than cheesy tomato sauce but they have no idea if I search for those things.

I am aware of corporations turning to maximising profit. As far as I'm concerned that's how they started in the first place so I don't see any turning from one thing to another.
posted by juiceCake at 5:48 PM on February 11, 2010


No they don't. They may know that people using their services search for spicy tomato sauce more than cheesy tomato sauce but they have no idea if I search for those things.

Are you not familiar with Web History? Google knows what many particular users search for and what sites they visit. Google Toolbar users can be similarly tracked. Services like Google Maps store your searches, so Google knows what kind of restaurants you look for and where. I could go on.

And obviously I'm not referring to you, juiceCake, specifically. For all I know you don't use any Google services and search the web through an anonymizing proxy with cookies and JavaScript disabled. I'm speaking of the average user, the one that Google has accumulated an enormous amount of information about.
posted by jedicus at 6:08 PM on February 11, 2010


Sorry, I'm just not scared yet. This looks to me like Google is trying to support their Chrome OS.

I hope Google's action increases competition among internet providers because in many markets the choices are Comcast and Verizon/AT&T. Most rural markets don't even have that choice.
posted by irisclara at 6:30 PM on February 11, 2010


DC tried to make FIOS available, and my understanding is Verizon said FU. Maybe Google will be more responsive. For all the responses above about how this would only be beneficial in the middle of nowhere (relatively speaking), I think you're mistaken about the monopolies being granted in major US cities.

I know you weren't addressing the last part directly to me, but I just want to follow up. I know all too well what it's like in the major cities -- while the aforementioned business is in Richmond, I live in Baltimore. Baltimore City, to be precise, which is being screwed over, Fios-wise, just as much as DC. No, actually, I take that back -- more so, because last I heard, DC has at least finally granted Verizon permission (or whatever the proper term is) to start laying the fiber to ultimately have Fios. (I may be confusing this with Philly, though.) Baltimore City isn't anywhere close to that point yet.

So at home, I'm dealing with 4ish/1ish "broadband." But at least it's from a friendly, competent, independent, locally owned company, and not the dipshits from Philly.

Is it any wonder I stay late at work most days?
posted by CommonSense at 7:38 PM on February 11, 2010


Google could start slowly but surely closing off people's ability to get their data out of Google. Once people's entire lives are on Google servers and they can't easily get that data out, they're stuck. That's most of what kept people trapped with Microsoft: they were invested in Microsoft products, which weren't compatible with anything else; network effects took care of the rest (well, that and threatening OEMs that thought about installing anything else).

But there's a big difference between "hey, I trusted company X to do a job for me and they did a bad job" and "hey, I never signed on to this, why can't company X leave me alone?" The former is what you're proposing Google might do, and the latter is what Microsoft did.

Whenever you hire a company to perform a service, there is always the risk that they will do it poorly or totally fail. That isn't unique to Google or any other company, big or small. If you are using Google's servers to store your data (I've never, ever done that, and don't understand why anyone would) then you should be prepared for the possibility that they will lose that data or hold it for ransom. If that happens, oh well. Never make the mistake of hiring them again, and it just goes to show that if ya want somethin' done right, ya gotta do it yourself. And Google isn't the only company that stores data for people, so why pick on them specifically about this? There are always going to be other data centers you could use instead. It doesn't take much capital to build a small data center, so there will never be a shortage of competitors you can go over to.

What Microsoft did was to create an API that was very hard to mimic, get a bunch of application developers hooked on that API like crack, and then strongarm consumers and hardware vendors into building and maintaining a monopoly for them. I didn't start out as a Windows user, and never really wanted to become one. I was forced into it because Microsoft made it next to impossible for anyone to offer a serious competing OS that supported most apps and hardware out there. It takes immense capital to implement the Windows API, and it takes immense capital and extensive connections to get the hardware support you need.

With Google, sure, I can get screwed if I choose to rely on them to hold my data, but you can say that about any service by any company. The point is that if I don't like them, or if I'm skeptical of them, I don't have to use their services at all, and they are not in any kind of position that would allow them to force me to.
posted by Xezlec at 8:33 PM on February 11, 2010


The point is that if I don't like them, or if I'm skeptical of them, I don't have to use their services at all, and they are not in any kind of position that would allow them to force me to.

I'd say that's a fair point for someone who does know the risks and is skeptical. But I think a lot of people don't necessarily think through the implications of putting all of their data on Google's servers, which is one of the main points I've tried to make in this thread.

And I would also say that Google can't technically force you to use their services but neither could Microsoft force you to use their OS. You could, after all, just refuse to use a computer. In Google's case, there is the possibility that it may monopolize certain vital online services (like web search) to the point that there is no serious competition. As with Microsoft, there is a substantial risk of being given Hobson's Choice.

One rebuttal point might be that with Microsoft you had to buy, say, Office because other people used it. But you might very well have to sign on to Google because your clients or company decides to use Google Apps. So the same pressure from network effects exists with Google as it did Microsoft.

But I feel like I've derailed this thread long enough. Back to envying the Scandinavians and the Japanese for their affordable, massive bandwidth and cursing the telecoms and cable companies for preventing states and municipalities from running internet access like a utility.
posted by jedicus at 9:14 PM on February 11, 2010


Blazecock Pileon: "Is he fiddling around down there?"


No, he's playing the cello, obviously.
posted by idiopath



I think he's trying to get a Wi-Fi signal.
posted by Skygazer at 9:18 PM on February 11, 2010


Is that a cello in your pants, or is Yo-Yo Ma just pleased to see me?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:32 PM on February 11, 2010


In Google's case, there is the possibility that it may monopolize certain vital online services (like web search) to the point that there is no serious competition.

I don't see how. Building a competing search engine to pull over a handful of dissatisfied Google users doesn't seem that difficult or expensive. All you need are some servers and bandwidth. How can Google stop you?

One rebuttal point might be that with Microsoft you had to buy, say, Office because other people used it. But you might very well have to sign on to Google because your clients or company decides to use Google Apps. So the same pressure from network effects exists with Google as it did Microsoft.

No, the fact that Microsoft successfully won most of the market with Office is not one of the things that bothers me about Microsoft. That seemed perfectly fair, and if I want to use OpenOffice instead at home, I still can. Obviously at work I have to use what other people use, but that's not something I blame Microsoft for. If people use Office at work, then if Office starts to suck, then the relevant powers that be can decide to switch. That's actually the healthy way to do things.

What Microsoft did was to actually make it hard for me to use something other than Windows. That's the unfair, dangerous, bad thing. It's not that lots of people use it so I have to use it just to work with them -- that's a minor issue and wouldn't bother me. Individual communities could use whatever they wanted, and those communities could compete with each other in a way, and the one using the better product might grow larger. The problem with Windows is that you can't just start a small community to use something else, because there is no something else, and the startup cost to create one is larger than any small, experimental community could ever manage.

Before someone brings up Linux or Mac, I have to say I think these both have the potential to compete more heavily with Windows, but it's taking an awful long time (how many years has it been? 18-ish?) due to the effects I mentioned before. Neither has the application base or the hardware support that Windows has, due to Microsoft's deliberately fencing off those things to keep others from getting to them quickly.

Oh, and I don't really think this is a derail.
posted by Xezlec at 10:16 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see how. Building a competing search engine to pull over a handful of dissatisfied Google users doesn't seem that difficult or expensive. All you need are some servers and bandwidth. How can Google stop you?

If you don't consider Linux or Mac a substantial competitor to Microsoft (or at least not until recently) I don't see how someone's search engine with a 'handful of dissatisfied Google users' for customers is a substantial competitor.

And Google could stop the competitor by having a monopoly on web advertising. It's pretty hard to support a search engine without advertising revenue. I suppose you could have a pay-walled search engine but that seems like a terrible business model.

The problem with Windows is that you can't just start a small community to use something else, because there is no something else, and the startup cost to create one is larger than any small, experimental community could ever manage.

And I would say that the problem with a tightly-integrated, closed Google ecosystem is that you can't just start a small community to use something else, because there is no something else (because Google put them out of business through competition, buyouts, and maybe also abuse of its monopolies), and the startup cost to create one is larger than any small, experimental community could ever manage (because you have to have the entire ecosystem in place to compete).

Basically I don't think it's too far-fetched to envision a future where Google is basically the only choice for web services because the other offerings are inferior, non-integrated, or both. Google could get there through a mixture of competition, buyouts, and even abuse of its monopolies. And I don't think it's too far-fetched that Google could then cement its position by closing off the ecosystem and making it difficult for people to get their data back out.

Remember: Google place nice with open source for everything except the code that actually runs its underlying services. You can't get code for the search engine, the maps servers, the advertising system, the YouTube back end, etc, etc. And the JavaScript that runs things like Google Docs is copyrighted and not under an open source license (with the obvious exception of various open source JS libraries that it relies on). So the open source community can't pull up their stakes and 'fork' Google because Google holds the really important stuff close to its chest.

There's also the risk that Google might actually start exercising some of its hundreds of patents.

Is it likely? No, for various reasons. Should we be alert to the possibility? I think so because, although the probability is small, the potential damage is enormous. It's a bit like being on guard for an asteroid strike: unlikely but potentially devastating, so we put up a few telescopes.
posted by jedicus at 9:39 AM on February 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you not familiar with Web History?

Being a web developer I am so totally not familiar with web history or tracking.

Google knows what many particular users search for and what sites they visit.

Only if you sign on to their services. Google cannot identify me, the person, beyond some person searched for x y and z whenever I use the search engine. Same is true for every other search engine. What's the problem?

Maps store your searches, so Google knows what kind of restaurants you look for and where. I could go on.

You could but I'm afraid Google has no idea what kind of restaurants I look for. Even to your point below, if my parents conduct a search at Google.com, Google doesn't know which of my parents did the search, how old they are, if they're having bowel trouble, if they're happy or sad. I could go on, despite them not disabling JS or using proxy servers. That they know a search for Restaurant A, B or C has occurred is true. That they collect these stats and analyze them for advertising revenue is true. I have no problem with that. The service is free and I expect it wouldn't be otherwise.

But they don't know me, they don't dominate my life, they have no control over me.
posted by juiceCake at 10:33 AM on February 12, 2010


Basically I don't think it's too far-fetched to envision a future where Google is basically the only choice for web services because the other offerings are inferior, non-integrated, or both. Google could get there through a mixture of competition, buyouts, and even abuse of its monopolies. And I don't think it's too far-fetched that Google could then cement its position by closing off the ecosystem and making it difficult for people to get their data back out.

And others like myself understand the concern and the scenario (look at Apple for example for a close off ecosystem) but nothing Google has done indicates this will be the case. They are steadfastly breaking up the old monopolies and creating an open ecosystem based on interchangeable data formats and common standards.

We are all watching and we are all hoping that our legal system keeps them in check, just like any other business. It failed for the likes of Enron, and companies like them that can do far more damage than the likes of Google, Apple, or Microsoft. Of the last three companies there, 2 have been complete dicks. One hasn't. Could they possibly? Sure. Could they possibly not? Sure.
posted by juiceCake at 10:38 AM on February 12, 2010


One rebuttal point might be that with Microsoft you had to buy, say, Office because other people used it. But you might very well have to sign on to Google because your clients or company decides to use Google Apps. So the same pressure from network effects exists with Google as it did Microsoft.

Fortunately we have programs that can read different file formats so you don't have to use Office or Google.
posted by juiceCake at 10:39 AM on February 12, 2010


Being a web developer I am so totally not familiar with web history or tracking.

Don't be snide. I had no particular reason to surmise that you were a web developer.

Even to your point below, if my parents conduct a search at Google.com, Google doesn't know which of my parents did the search, how old they are, if they're having bowel trouble, if they're happy or sad.

If they are logged into Google then Google knows that it's probably the logged-in parent that searched for it. It may well know exactly how old they are from some future Google social-networking feature, or it may make a reasonable guess based on other searches they make. They know if they're having bowel trouble or happy or sad from their other searches, their emails, their chats, and the products they buy with Google Checkout. If they enable Web History and use the Google Toolbar then Google will even know where they go when they leave Google's sites.

Google can know an enormous amount about specific, individual users. It can use statistics and correlations to make accurate guesses about other users. Just using the information that your browser publicly broadcasts can often uniquely identify you.

We are all watching and we are all hoping that our legal system keeps them in check, just like any other business.

Then we're in agreement. My premise was simply to point out the potential harms that an end-to-end Google ecosystem represents. That is, using Google web services over a Google internet connection with a Google browser running on a Google OS on Google hardware. Not even Apple has indicated that it wants to become that vertically integrated (it still lacks the internet connection part).

Fortunately we have programs that can read different file formats so you don't have to use Office or Google.

Which is why everyone has switched to free OpenOffice instead of paying for Office or giving their eyeballs to ads on Google Docs. Reading the file format does no good if the features aren't implemented or aren't implemented well. OpenOffice still can't handle VBA very well (if at all), for example.

But they don't know me, they don't dominate my life, they have no control over me.

That's great for you. As I said before, I'm not really talking about you, juiceCake, specifically. I'm talking about the average user, the one who embraces the Google ecosystem, who puts their digital lives onto Google's servers, who doesn't know they can get their data out, and who wouldn't know what to do with the data even if they did.
posted by jedicus at 11:41 AM on February 12, 2010


the Google ecosystem

I hope I don't come to regret the first time I read those words.
posted by Skygazer at 2:45 PM on February 12, 2010


That's great for you. As I said before, I'm not really talking about you, juiceCake, specifically. I'm talking about the average user, the one who embraces the Google ecosystem, who puts their digital lives onto Google's servers, who doesn't know they can get their data out, and who wouldn't know what to do with the data even if they did.

Are these the same people who don't know how to use more than one mouse button but now can use multi-touch? Seriously, I don't see a difference. I don't see how horrible Google could be to the ignorant uneducated masses. I don't see an ounce of difference between them and me. I don't see why people using a service have no obligation to learn how it might work (i.e. I want my data but I don't know how to get it, therefore Google is EVIL!!!). When the time comes read the fucking instructions. It's all there. You can even search for it on Google.
posted by juiceCake at 3:48 PM on February 12, 2010


If they are logged into Google then Google knows that it's probably the logged-in parent that searched for it. It may well know exactly how old they are from some future Google social-networking feature, or it may make a reasonable guess based on other searches they make. They know if they're having bowel trouble or happy or sad from their other searches, their emails, their chats, and the products they buy with Google Checkout. If they enable Web History and use the Google Toolbar then Google will even know where they go when they leave Google's sites.

I can play the "if" game all day. If I buy something through Mastercard they "know" my habits. If I buy something through PayPal, they "know" I bought a hosting plan. What if they do something with that information? Well we have laws about abuse of private information. Me giving information to Google, Mastercard, Pay Pal is not private information. They don't know who I fuck, they don't know my politics, they don't know my favourite shows, they don't know what I think of wooden chairs versus plastic chairs.

If Google makes a direct mind interface they could control us all.


Don't be snide. I had no particular reason to surmise that you were a web developer.

I can be snide if I want. I had no particular reason to surmise that asking if a person who uses a web browser has never heard of web history wasn't being snide. So does Google know if you or me are snide or not?

Then we're in agreement. My premise was simply to point out the potential harms that an end-to-end Google ecosystem represents. That is, using Google web services over a Google internet connection with a Google browser running on a Google OS on Google hardware. Not even Apple has indicated that it wants to become that vertically integrated (it still lacks the internet connection part).

Nor has Google indicated that it wants to become that vertically integrated. They are a proponent of net neutrality. This roll out has the potential to open high speed internet being provided by a number of ISPs wide open. We are not in agreement. Of course I can agree to a fantasy what if framework. If Google takes full control and reneges on all their agreements and invades everyone's privacy, exposing passwords, reading email, stealing money, then that would be bad. Yes, I agree. I disagree it's going to happen. We all agree on potential harms. This is true of any large company and quite a number of small ones. It's true of my neighbour who may own a gun or a sharp knife. It's true of incompetent drivers of cars as well.

Which is why everyone has switched to free OpenOffice instead of paying for Office or giving their eyeballs to ads on Google Docs. Reading the file format does no good if the features aren't implemented or aren't implemented well. OpenOffice still can't handle VBA very well (if at all), for example.

Thanks for the laugh. I can't be snide but you can. I never suggested that these interchangeable formats are 100% interchangeable, but I see no reason why Google would move to damage .rtf for example. Why would interchangeable formats mean that everyone would switch to the free OpenOffice instead of MS Office or giving their eyeballs to ads on Google Docs (no ads in the paid version, no ads shown with adblock)? Of course reading the format does no good if the features aren't implemented or aren't implemented well. Guess what? Reading the file format does plenty of good if the features are implemented and implemented well. God help us if we suggest something that might be helpful to battle the wildly massive evil potential of Google.
posted by juiceCake at 4:05 PM on February 12, 2010


If you don't consider Linux or Mac a substantial competitor to Microsoft (or at least not until recently) I don't see how someone's search engine with a 'handful of dissatisfied Google users' for customers is a substantial competitor.

That's what I was trying to explain. It's not the number of users that makes something a reasonable competitor, it's how well it performs its function. Linux has always had difficulty supporting much hardware. I custom-designed my system to be as Linux-friendly as possible and still had problems. Mac OS only runs on one brand of hardware legally. But any search engine works fine with any computer.

The Windows API is hard to mimic, and having a large application base now depends on mimicking it. But search engines only have to interface with websites, which you can always do easily. I can serve up a search engine in my living room right now, and it would be perfectly usable.

And Google could stop the competitor by having a monopoly on web advertising. It's pretty hard to support a search engine without advertising revenue.

Nonsense. Just being successful doesn't make it impossible for others to compete, in and of itself. You go get an investor, set up a website, run some TV ads or something, and get a little traffic. Then you can sell a little advertising. You have to sell it fairly cheap because of your low traffic at first, but you're only paying for a little bandwidth at first so that's fine. That's just normal business and competition. That's how all companies get started. You always begin as the little guy competing against the big guy(s). A monopoly is when the big guys have some kind of leverage that prevents people from competing with them for customers, like Microsoft did by preventing hardware vendors from talking to Linux people.

And I would say that the problem with a tightly-integrated, closed Google ecosystem is that you can't just start a small community to use something else, because there is no something else (because Google put them out of business through competition, buyouts, and maybe also abuse of its monopolies), and the startup cost to create one is larger than any small, experimental community could ever manage (because you have to have the entire ecosystem in place to compete).

I know nothing about this "ecosystem" you speak of. I occasionally use Google's services for certain things, but I haven't seen this phenomenon. It sounds like you've gotten the idea that it is success or competition itself that is the dangerous thing, and that merely being big is the same as being a monopoly. That isn't the case. You can't just say "oh, I'm big, so I'm going to go and put everyone else out of business now". If a small community is willing to pay for a competing service, "competition and buyouts" aren't going to make it go away. That's not how it works. As for this unspecified "abuse of monopolies", that's the part I'm trying to get you to explain.

Remember: Google place nice with open source for everything except the code that actually runs its underlying services. You can't get code for the search engine, the maps servers, the advertising system, the YouTube back end, etc, etc. And the JavaScript that runs things like Google Docs is copyrighted and not under an open source license (with the obvious exception of various open source JS libraries that it relies on). So the open source community can't pull up their stakes and 'fork' Google because Google holds the really important stuff close to its chest.

What?! You're under the impression that it's Google's source code that is so "important" that it can't be easily reproduced, and that's the reason for their success, like Microsoft with its API?! That's just laughable. There is no reason to open-source these simple things. There are a hundred other user-video websites out there, and it would take a high-school web designer no time at all to write another one. Many of them are slicker than YouTube. There are a hundred other search engines, and while it wouldn't be quite as good as Google, I could write my own that would be good enough that most people would never notice the difference.

Microsoft's Windows API takes millions of lines of code to implement. Large, dedicated projects like Wine have been trying for years to duplicate it, and been only somewhat successful. To date, there is only one OS that can run most Windows apps properly. Not hundreds. Please try to understand the difference. It is a huge one.
posted by Xezlec at 7:55 PM on February 12, 2010


And actually, google gave away the web toolkit they use to design the interface for their own apps.
posted by empath at 9:54 PM on February 12, 2010


The Windows API is hard to mimic, and having a large application base now depends on mimicking it.

Ok, this is sort of a tangent, but fuck Windows apps. Having switched away from the Windows platform, I find I am as happy to be rid of the apps as I am of the OS itself.
posted by ryanrs at 12:53 AM on February 13, 2010


Hey Juicecake. Hey Jedicus.

Google did something not very nice. It shut a bunch of music blogs without notice.


Discuss.

Sorry couldn't help puring a little gasoline on this fading thread....
posted by Skygazer at 12:10 PM on February 13, 2010


Slap-Happy: Also, Google usually has a slow-and-steady rollout - they simply don't care about servicing all the users all at once. Remember how long the gmail beta ran for, and how tough it was to get an "invite"? They're doing it the same way for Wave and Buzz, too.

Google Buzz : Anatomy of a Slow Motion Trainwreck

I saw this appear in my Gmail account and whereas usually, Google is very careful about how it introduces new services into its "ecosystem," for fear of upsetting the balance, with Buzz I think they've over reached, been boorish and all in all screwed the pooch. I'm not even on Facebook yet, because of privacy issues and because (mostly) I don't need another onanistic , more or less wasteful vortex to suck up my time. I know I'm rare in that regard, but for Google to throw this incredibly invasive crap at all gmail users gives me great pause as I have an Android phone and this is not the Google I've come to trust.
posted by Skygazer at 1:00 PM on February 13, 2010


Google Buzz : Anatomy of a Slow Motion Trainwreck

You know what, fuck that guy. Let Google be Google. Listening to users that bitch and complain and worrying about whether users are going to bitch and complain before releasing new products is how companies stagnate.

People are always going to hate change.
posted by empath at 9:10 AM on February 14, 2010


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