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Google Gets Into the Hotel Business

I had an idea: Now that Google is expanding into non-Internet related businesses like self-driving cars and mining asteroids, something they might want to consider are hotels.

Why? Because they already don’t care about your privacy, and this could be a big advantage for a hotelier. Hear me out.

Every room is wired with microphones and cameras – everything you do and say is recorded. This way, if you’re hungry and you say so, you get a call from room service asking what you’d like to order. Granted, maybe you want to go out to eat, but Google needs your money so you’ll just have to get through them first.

When you do brush off room service because you want to go out, you get another call from the concierge. They heard what you said, and so they called you a cab from the company the hotel has partnered with.

If you come back later that night with someone you met, maybe you’ll have sex. That’s when the bellman will show up at your door with a selection of condoms from the gift shop you may be interested in purchasing.

Don’t worry about who is going to see and hear all of this information they’re recording, though. It’s all anonymous. So if that person you took back to your room isn’t your wife or husband, no one will ever know.

Unless your wife or husband is a law enforcement official. Then it will magically be pretty unanonymous.

After all, if you’re doing something in a hotel room you don’t want other people to know about, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it, right? Hey, if you don’t like it, you can always go to another hotel.

Unfortunately, in this scenario, Google Hotels controls 66.8% of the market, and it’s nearest competitor Bing is doing the exact same nefarious shit.

If all that sounds crazy, why are Google’s online policies not considered just as crazy?

All of this is just about exactly what they did when they decided all information would be shared across all of the platforms they own. On the surface, it never sounded too terrible: If you’re searching for an Adam Sandler movie, maybe later on YouTube will show you some more Adam Sandler movies since you showed an interest in it. So what?

The problem is if you don’t want that kind of help from Google, it’s damn hard to get out of it. The privacy policy may be shared, but there are a number of different avenues you have to take to opt out of them.

And in some cases you can’t. I own an Android phone – the OS created by Google. In order for it to function, I have to use a Google login. Once I do, Google records my name, address, phone number, and the serial number for my device – and adds it to my Google account record. I cannot tell Google to leave that information out, I cannot delete it once it has been added. I am locked into their idea of “convenience,” which does more for them to learn about me than it does to make their products function better.

Also, like in the metaphorical hotel, Google says their data collection is anonymous, that no one could determine who you are based on what they get. However, Google can easily give law enforcement officials your search records at the drop of a court order.

Now, I actually have no problem with law enforcement officials getting this kind of information with a valid court order. What I cannot understand is how something supposedly “anonymous” can tell the police anything about an individual user. If this data really didn’t point directly at me, police wouldn’t have any use for it. That the police keep subpoenaing this information shows Google can tell whose records are whose, and is telling its users a bald-faced lie.

The one way I’ve found around giving Google too much of what I think is too much, I use separate logins for all of their properties. I have one Google login for work, another for socializing on Google Plus, another for YouTube, and yet another for my phone. The idea is they cannot share between accounts because they don’t know each of these profiles is me. I can’t be sure this works, though. For all I know, they collate all this data into one profile for me, with the notation that I’m a smart ass. If they did, I certainly wouldn’t expect they’d tell me.

It also means, oddly, that I cannot use my G+ account on my phone for fear of Google. If they’re tapping my phone conversations, (which they are capable of doing,) it doesn’t matter to me because all they have to connect these to are the fake name I gave them when I created the phone’s Google account. If they tied it into my original Google login, the one I created back when they were still dedicated to not being evil, they would know EVERYTHING about me. And I’d have no way of stopping them.

I’ll leave you with this story, which is apocryphal but I hope true, because it’s brilliant: When Google Maps debuted Street View, a number of people complained because their homes, their cars parked outside, and the license plate numbers on those cars were all visible. These people said their privacy had been invaded. In response, Google’s resident cold, vicious demon – heretofore known as Eric Schmidt – again said that there is no more privacy; You know, that old chestnut.

In response to this, some enterprising bloggers got on Google Maps, and hunted down the view of Eric Schmidt’s house. Then they blogged about it, including the Street View picture, to give him a taste of his own medicine.

Shortly thereafter, Google started to blur the license plate numbers on vehicles it captured.

Whether this is true or not, it does illustrate that privacy isn’t just a concern for criminals or philanderers or people who do things they “maybe shouldn’t be doing in the first place.”

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Google needs to fix the +1 idea

If I could change anything about Google Plus, I’d add tagging to the +1s.

Ciao Enrico - Google +1

Years ago delicio.us revolutionized bookmarking with the use of tags. For some reason, an idea this simple wasn’t adopted by Google when they developed the whole +1 philosophy. Which is too bad for +1s.

It’s POTENTIALLY a great bookmarking tool. Unfortunately, the way it works now, everything you +1 gets gunked together into one great big ball of weblink. If they were tagged, you could make a beeline to each link you saved there, anytime you needed it.

If a pop-out was added for anytime someone +1’d something, they could put in a few simple tags to denote why the link is important.

People could also share lists of content this way. It wouldn’t be unlike a collection of YouTube favorites, except I could do it with everything.

Also, advertisers could preload tags onto them, more as suggestions to anyone +1-ing, say, a paid search landing page. Include a “clear all” link so they can be wiped off the +1 if the user doesn’t like what the webmaster put on there, and it removes the impetus to spam.

Google, this should be an easy thing to implement! It’s the kind of product that would give people a reason to stay logged into Google, and using Google Plus.

Please, please, please update the +1 structure with tags. I’ll be your best friend, I swear. 🙂

Google adds Snippets to Google Maps

I know I already posted about how I wouldn’t post about social media anymore. But I changed my mind. I’m just going to post about what interests me, if it happens to, because frankly I’m not making any money off of this blog anyway. I may as well enjoy myself.

That having been said, I’m going back to one of my favorite subjects today, Google. That is because today Google announced they are adding Snippets – or, “+Snippets, if we are to start correctly employing their attempt at owning addition – to Google Maps.

All you have to do is click on the “Share” button in your G+ toolbar when you’re on a map, and you get a number of options for storing or sending.

Now, if you’ve been wondering why Google Plus would have as much potential as Facebook in the social network arena, this is why.

You see, you probably already use Google Maps anyway. It’s likely you already use Google Search, Gmail and YouTube, right? So you’re reminded that there’s functionality you’re missing out on when you go to these things and don’t have a G+ account of your own.

We’re maybe another two or three years away from Google taking over creating the phone book. The nice thing is, before you call someone, you’ll be able to read their profile, look at satellite images of where they live, get reviews of them from co-workers, read where they like to eat…

Slowly but surely, Google is creating a stalker’s paradise, where no one will have privacy or be protected. Who else is looking forward to all those home invasions?

Google vs. Facebook? No. Google vs. Bing

We love the horse race in America. Whenever there are two choices that even appear to be in competition, we choose sides. Such is the case this week, now that Google has unleashed what everyone (except Google) is calling a Facebook killer, Google+.

In this case, picking a favorite to “win” isn’t really the point.

There isn’t any point (read as: money) in Google killing Facebook. Google makes their money from their search network. Facebook makes their money from… well, no one’s quite sure of that yet… maybe venture capital sources that don’t ask too many questions?

Anyway, the most likely point of Google+ is to keep people on Google, performing their searches on Google, which include their paid search ads, which makes Google money. If people continue to search with Google, they aren’t doing it somewhere else.

So Google+ isn’t about beating Facebook, but beating the Bing/Yahoo junta.

Google has been the absolute leader in search for years because they developed a better search algorithm than what already existed. This meant better search results, and a better product.

The methodology they created is now used by sites like Bing and Yahoo, and to many the variations in results between the three aren’t important. If that were to continue, Google might not be able to prove that they are better than their search rivals.

Enter Google+, something that will keep people close to their search product. They could actually trump Facebook with this. Personally,  I doubt it’s really their goal.

Can Facebook and Google+ both be popular at the same time? As long as Google+ members find their way to ads via their Adwords program, I don’t see how Google could possibly care.