Tag Archives: Google

No thought required

The information age is over. If you’d like to attend the wake, please wear black and be courteous to the grieving windows, they’ve been through a lot. Oh, the Internet will still be around, and there will always be television and newspapers (though at a certain point we’ll have to start calling newspapers pamphlets, the news section of USA Today is so light it actually floats up to the ceiling.) But they don’t want to inform you, heavens no. That would leave little shades of gray, and allow consumers to try and reach their own conclusions, expand their horizons as only they see fit. The trend now is to be told about events, to be told what to think.

Let’s examine Microsoft’s add for their new search engine, Bing.

So, if you were paying attention, it’s your fault that the economy sucks, because when you should have single-handedly watch dogging the world’s economy, you were giggling at Lolcats. And who brought you these Lolcats? Well, search engines, obviously. By giving users the ability to look for whatever they want to, and by providing them a glutton’s share of information, those fools at Google are bringing about the end of our lives. Those lovey-dovey gents at Microsoft, however, will shelter you from the Internet, and give you the search results they want.

On the professional front (and this marks the difference between ‘professional’ actions and the roles of marketers) Bing is intended to merely offer a superior search engine. After all, 42 percent of all searches require refinement, and 25 percent of clicks are on the back button on search sites. But there’s a huge gap between presenting a product that’s built to be merely superior as a sort of saving grace from what makes the Internet so wonderful, the vast amount of information out there on the web.

I’d love for Microsoft to inform me as to just how Bing is supposed to rise like Christ and solve all of the ignorance about important issues. I typed “I can haz cheezburger,” into Bing, searching for the same flotsam that Google has obviously shoved down my throat for years, hoping for Bing’s enlightening. Pressing enter, I expected to be re-routed to CNN or the Wall Street Journal, or perhaps be directed toward a governmental website about tariffs and trade policy. Instead, I got…

Wait a second here...I'm still destroying western civilization!

Wait a second...I'm still destroying western civilization!

Alright, so Bing doesn’t do what it’s ad makes it out to do (imagine that, advertisers lying…) but that’s the marketers fault, the problem doesn’t lie with the programmers or brainiacs who created Bing. It’s a solid search engine that seems to get the job done, and it looks nicer than Google. The problem here lies with the advertisement, which basically says, “Being presented with options for information is dumb. Let us tell you what you should read and watch.”

It’s cable news on the Internet, in the place of the talking heads, the self-rightous malcontents on both sides of the spectrum, who do their very best to ensure that it’s their voice subjugating the news stories they’re “reporting” on, Bing steps forth as the search engine that’s fair and balanced, ready to present you with the least information on the market.

Why is it, out of every market, lesser quality is seen as an incredible advantage in the information industry? When cars stall and sputter, no one buys them, when peanut butter poisons kids, folks stop spreading it on their sandwiches. But a new search engine seeks to let itself be known as a database that presents you with minimal data? Maybe I’m going about this wrong, and the ad’s philosophy is in the right, and that folks shouldn’t be presented with as much information as possible so that they can come to their own conclusions.

And maybe my next car should come with three wheels and a dead fish shoved in the exhaust.

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Google gets Carson, advertising wrong

“Johnny Carson smoked, and for 30 years he was never pictured smoking a cigarette,” Google C.E.O Eric Schmidt said in an interview with Maureen Dowd, featured in today’s New York Times. “Today that would be nearly impossible.”

By the way, here's a picture of Carson with a cigarette that I found on Google. Eat it Schmidt.

By the way, here's a picture of Carson with a cigarette. I found it on Google, so eat it, Schmidt.

This quote, aside from hinting at Carson’s possession of huge quantities of invisible cigarettes, pertains to the ubiquity of personal information on the Internet, and Google’s assertion that they don’t have to give newspapers money in exchange for their reporting, that instead the news industry should alter its advertising model so that ads are personal and precise.

So what does this Carson quote seem to imply for the rest of us? Let’s say we’re not as famous as Carson is, and don’t have a multitude of pictures taken of us that would lead to a startling (and untrue) assertion that he was never depicted doing something he always did. Let’s say we have a Facebook account and there are several pictures of us at a baseball game. If the Google model is applied, somebody should be keeping tabs on those pictures and send an alert over to baseball-related firms to bludgeon

This sort of evolutionary, adaptive marketing has been all the rage across the Internet, and that’s fine provided that it ‘s stuck to the articles we look at on Digg or CNN, or tailored to the interests we put into our Facebook status. Those are inputs that we voluntary toss to marketers, knowing full well that they’ll result in directed ads.

The implications of Schmidt’s quote about Carson lies with the distinction of personal information and public information. Despite what marketers will try to say (or those increasingly mischievous, mustache-twirling, profit-seeking ‘do-gooders’ Google folks, for that matter) there is a divide. Those pictures taken at a baseball field? Those are private, they’re merely documentation of an event we attended, archived for posterity. If we’re awesome, and have the Baltimore Orioles listed in our interests section of Facebook, that’s something that’s easily searchable, there’s no intrusion.

But Schmidt’s insinuation that things as personal as pictures, as small decisions made on a private scale, should be used by newspapers to try and hold up the corpses of their business models, is rather scary. Google’s not supposed to evil, right? So why would they advocate marketers gaining access to our pictures and looking through all of them, trying to peel at what our preferences and predispositions as a consumer are? These are the same folks who would love to have our medical records. Should medical records be tossed to pharmaceutical companies so that they can tailor their ads to each individual customer? Will hemorrhoid sufferers eventually be bombarded with dancing Preparation H banners every time they log onto their emails?

I could be alone here, but I’d like to consider my life like a private residence. Sure, there are elements that are exposed to the outside world, you can drive by and take a peek at my car sitting in the driveway, see an Orioles banner maybe, maybe notice that there’s a grill on the back porch. But I don’t need the likes of Google, or the news outlets they’re trying to push around, peeking through my windows and sifting through my garbage.

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