I’ve been feeling very much in the minority this week. First off, Google launched their new Street View. By and large, the tech community seems to love it. Me, I feel very, very uncomfortable that someone can sit at their leisure at their desk, call up a highly detailed photo of the outside of my home, and view it from any number of different angles, all without having to be on the scene. But clearly, I’m missing something, because just about everyone else seems to think it’s uber-cool, or at the very least, slick.
Now, Google is introducing Google Gears, and I am similarly unimpressed. Off-line access to web-based apps is one of the big issues for web-based computing, and it was only a matter of time before someone filled that rather obvious gap. However, solving that problem only brings another one into focus — web based apps don’t have even a remotely comparable feature set as their desktop-based rivals in some rather vital areas. Sure, it’s great that your feed reader will work on an airplane, but Google Docs is not even close to being a good replacement for MS Word.
And this brings me back to some comments I made about Web 2.0 just last month:
What I would really love to see is people spending all that time, talent, and money on solving the problems that have NOT been solved yet. Search technology, for example. We’ve made some big strides in text-based search (although there is still much to do there too), but searching around graphics, video, or audio is lagging far behind. Or if you want to focus on web-based technology, can someone please come up with a cross-platform web conferencing system that doesn’t suck?
Maybe I need an attitude adjustment, or just a vacation.
Or maybe not. Maybe I’m right, and we need new solutions to new problems much more than we need more solutions to problems that have already been solved.
Those of us who still, against all odds, harbor some fondness for the PalmOS platform were looking forward to today, when Palm founder Jeff Hawkins finally unveiled the super-duper mystery project he’s been working on for some time now.
I’m underwhelmed and very disappointed.
As I was cruising around the San Francisco bay this past week, something came to mind: it’s possible that these sights, or the 1941 version of them, were the last my great-uncle Arthur saw of America, before he died over the Pacific in WW2.
During the war, San Francisco was a major naval base, and Angel Island was a major embarkation point for men going out to fight the war in the Pacific. So it’s possible that Arthur sailed out through the beautiful Golden Gate that long-ago day, never to return.
He has a grave in the Punchbowl military cemetery on Oahu, instead. We visited it when I was a child, on our one family trip to Hawaii. But he’s not there; he was MIA and presumed dead, with the rest of his crew. Whether he was shot down by the Japanese or was a victim of mechanical failure, we’ll never know.
I keep a small book that I found in a used bookstore in my top desk drawer. It’s a small, dull brown volume titled “Prayer Book for Jews in the Armed Forces of the United States” that dates to 1941. It wasn’t his, but I keep it to honor his memory.
Robert Scoble reads his feeds and notices that Fear of Google / Distrust of Google is growing.
I have no idea if Google is evil or not – I like to think they are not, but I don’t have any knowledge one way or the other – but I completely agree that Google’s public face is not helping matters.
Scoble’s whole piece is good, but the closing comment is particularly apt:
I think Google has to be very transparent, very warm, and very open when it comes to privacy and the data it’s collecting on all of us and to many of us it’s coming across as closed, cold, and opaque. That leads to bad PR. Bad PR — if continued unabated — leads to government action. Just ask my friends at Microsoft.