Posts tagged ‘start-ups’


As the 2010s dawn, there’s a vacuum on the internet

06.01.2010

Photo by Elliot TuckerRick Klau’s action today in restoring Vincent’s Social Media Consortium blog got me putting things into perspective.
   We know sites like Blogger and Vox are free, but what happens when they fail?
   Vox, the Six Apart blogging service, had been where I had put my personal posts—as well as a bunch of private ones inaccessible to the general public—for three years. I built up good friendships there, before social networking became everyday.
   Yet when that service failed, I went from Vox evangelist to someone who became acutely aware of the site’s failings. Those who dissed Vox months before I did, and whose complaints I thought little of, suddenly seemed to be visionaries.
   I don’t think things were handled brilliantly. While I was still there and keeping up my rate of complaints about their service being dodgy, I got replies. The minute I left, that was it.
   ‘Phew, we don’t have to talk to that nut again.’
   All the claims about wanting to get to the bottom of the problem suddenly seemed insincere. And it’s worth noting that the bug I experienced—where a compose screen would take between 15 minutes and 48 hours to load—is still present.
   They had lost quite a few users, as I had noted, and it’s obviously something deep within their code.
   The damage had been done.
   Meanwhile, Google hasn’t exactly helped, either. While Vox had me pursuing its problems for six weeks, Google was damaging its brand for six months.
   When Vincent’s blog was first blocked in July, the company promised two-day reviews. These promises were all broken. I’m sure Vincent and I, and many other bloggers who contributed to the Social Media Consortium, would have loved to have known why. As it turned out, the blog’s reviewers agreed with the computer’s decision to render the blog inaccessible, and then to delete it altogether.
   By the time I got to the Google support forums to argue the case in November, there were more broken promises—as well as downright obstruction by someone who probably gets his kicks from it.
   It got me wondering: people who do things in Google’s name aren’t very intelligent, if they can’t grasp some of the basics of their role.
   They were also not particularly courteous or understanding.
   As the frustration grew, things in my world got un-Googled. My Firefox default search engines became Cuil or Bing. I shifted my blogs away, including this one, or simply stopped blogging at Blogger. (The Medinge Group’s press room went to WordPress late last year.) While once upon a time I would recommend Vox, Blogger and WordPress to people depending on their blogging needs, I would only now say, ‘Wordpress’.
   I never was sold on Gmail—and I notice friends are beginning to have problems with that service, including being locked out. People using Gmail to commit fraud and use Lucire’s name were allowed to continue to do so, even after we reported them. Even before this incident, but within the same calendar year, I discovered that Adsense was a load of rubbish.
   All this began making me think: Google has jumped the shark.
   If someone like Google’s Rick Klau—who, if you read his blog, is an incredibly intelligent guy, not to mention an incredibly courteous one—had known of our case earlier, I’m sure we wouldn’t have allowed the Google brand to become so tarnished in our minds.
   Rick fixed things in 24 hours and saved the day as far as the Social Media Consortium was concerned. He’s also given himself a lot of good karma—I’ve seen other blogs he’s gone and restored in the last few days. But it’s a couple of days of Google goodness versus six months of its own brand-wrecking, through either bad service done in its name, bad products, or not having much of a human touch.
   Given that I was one of the first people to use Google in the late 1990s, and abandon AltaVista, Infoseek and the others in its favour, it’s a disappointing end to the 2000s.
   The trust I once might have had for Google has evaporated into the ether. It would be stupid to say that I would never use the company’s services again—you can hardly avoid it—but I’ll be thinking twice about anything new that it introduces.
   The internet leadership vacuum is becoming a reality, because I don’t see Facebook or Twitter dominating (especially not the former, with its questionable practices). And that means a new company can fill the void in the 2010s. It could even be a New Zealand one—or, better still, a Wellington one.
   There’s enough world-class thinking here which can be used as a base. And, if elected this year as Wellington’s mayor, I’d like to build on that and see if we can create an online world-beater.
   I know of a couple of Kiwi ventures already that have world-beating capabilities, currently seeking capital. The “next Google” might be among them, if we can make sure that they can grow the way they should.

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