Monday, May 10, 2010

I guess we're not in Kansas anymore

I'm a fan of Google, generally speaking. I remember, believe it or not, the first day my boss at Citigroup came into my office and told me about this new search engine I just had to try. Anyone remember Alta Vista or Lycos? Ya, I'm old.

(Think about that - I'm aging myself by remembering the good old days on the Internet. Not before there was the Internet, just those early, glory days, like remembering the wild west or something. Yeesh.)

In those days, the good ol' days, Google was cool. It was different (a blank page with no images? searches returned before you can blink? what?) and the company seemed different too. Part of the "air hockey instead of conference rooms," "free Coke and Oreos for programmers," kind of thing.

And even when it began to grow up, it seemed to stay cool. Eric Schmidt of Novell and Sun Microsystems? "Do no evil"? These guys weren't only geeky smart, they were business smart enough apparently, to admit their blank spaces and handle them. That's even cooler.

Sadly, however, I think I see the stocking clad legs of Google-the-good poking limply out from under the house that corporate greed and arrogance built. This company was founded on the premise of simple and uncluttered. One column of search results. No images, no ads, no fluff. They even fought for 5 years to patent that very look (think I'm kidding? Not. "Google owns the idea of having a giant search box in the middle of the page, with two big buttons underneath and several small links nearby.")

Apparently, they patented it only to ditch it, cuz the Google home page aint so simple no more. It's a mess. Seriously. We've got top nav (Google apps, options and whatnot). We've got right side nav (sponsored links). And, most recently, we now have a left side nav too. Ugh. And no way to turn any of it off.

If that weren't bad enough, you've heard the buzz about Buzz? How Google is opting its users in willy-nilly? Adding insult to injury by, almost literally, adopting the Facebook model of making it close to impossible to turn it off? Not nice, guys. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

They might want to rethink that whole "do no evil" motto. Or remember it.

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