On Platforms, and My Quest

In Google's Terms of Service, it says:

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

(emphasis added)

As far as I understand it, what this means is that anything you post to Google is basically theirs to use however they see fit. Granted, some of their ToS "narrow the scope", like Gmail doesn't actually read your email. But they do use your email content to provide search results.

I've never felt entirely comfortable with this policy. I mean, sure, I'm not paying anything to Google to use Gmail, Blogger, Google+, or Google Search. And for the most part it's for their protection - but they are now a publicly traded company, and have a fiscal responsibility to their shareholders. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, and there's nothing magical about being a privately held company that makes you better than a company that had its IPO.

But I was way more comfortable with this Google, than I am with this Google.

As a company, I think Google does a lot of things right and has a lot of good services that they provide. But as Steve Yegge said, they suck at platforms. Google+ contains the Stalker API, and that's it. Right now, if you're a company that does social marketing you can apply for super-secret-whizbang-partner access to their API. But for us regular folks with an itch to scratch? Well, it's "coming soon". Or something.

So I've started to migrate away from using Google products. I'm using Pelican for my blog. I use duckduckgo for my search engine. I still use Google Docs because it's pretty amazing. I use Gmail, though frequently I just access it through Alpine.

But platforms are awesome, and good APIs are essential to making awesome platforms. This is why everyone uses Facebook even though we all hate it. Because it's such an incredible platform that even your grandma uses it. I think that most of my circle views it as the new Microsoft (ya know, more evil than Satan ;) - but you can't deny their excellence at making platforms.

Now, I told you that story to tell you this story.

I'm trying to become a better writer, a better speaker, and a better communicator. Of course, the only way to get better at any of these things is to practice! And one of the most useful ways to practice writing is to become an arrogant aggrandizing blowhard. I mean blogger.

Of course, if I simply write into the void, it's not going to help me improve - an essential part of improvement is honest feedback. When I get someone besides my mother or my best friend to tell me that my post was awesome, that doesn't really mean anything, because their relationship to me colors their feedback, and that's fine. But when someone just writes some destructive feedback, those are things that I can take and learn from.

But in order to funnel traffic here, I have to get it from somewhere. One of the best places to get that traffic is from other networks where people already put their eyes. Like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

And the best place to keep that traffic (so, if you've made it this far, people like you!) is to actually produce interesting content that you want to read. I mean, you gave me the honor of your time so I'll try not to abuse it too badly.

As you might know by now, I am a geek. As a geek, I am inherently lazy. Which is a good thing - do you think someone who just loved doing things invented your dishwasher? Nope, that was some lazy bum who was sick of washing dishes. Remote control? The guy was too lazy to keep getting up to change the channel, and when he tried sitting too close, the tumors from the radiation kept blocking his vision.

Because I'm lazy, I want to be able to post in one go to Google+, Facebook, and Twitter that I've produced such an amazing post that all the internets should flock to my blog, all in one go. I don't want to have to copy and paste stuff. Now, when it comes to Facebook and Twitter, I can do this because hooray, APIs! They actually have a platform.

Google+. I am dissapoint.