Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google Buzz and the Naked Emperor

It takes a lot to make my head spin, but it is now officially spinning.  Google Buzz reminds me of "The Emperor's New Clothes." Bear with me.

(I am summarizing here.) The vain Emperor is tricked by a couple of traveling tailor's into buying the most expensive, fabulous clothes the world has ever seen. They work and sew and and mime that they are creating an outfit so stunning that only the most discerning eye can see it. Now, the Emperor can't see the clothes but plays along for fear of looking less than clever himself. On the big day he pays the tailors who quickly run off, and parades down Main Street buck naked. Everyone oohs and aahs so that they will seem fabulous, and it takes the sensible little boy to say "Hey - the Emperor is naked!" With me so far?

What does the Emperor have to do with Google's latest product, Google Buzz?

Google = Tailors
Privacy = Clothes
Us = Emperor

Intellectually I have recognized for a long time that our concept of privacy has become an illusion. We all have remarkable digital footprints that cover every aspect of our lives, generated from the multitudes of information streams we generate through credit cards, car transponders, cell phones - everything.

Google Buzz pulls back the royal robes, if you will, and shows the degree of connectivity our every online click can have with people we include in our personal network. But it also shows the volumes of data we generate. Combine Facebook, Twitter and any other social networking platform, aggregate it, toss in the jet propulsion of Google, and you have Google Buzz.

I am exhilarated as well as horrified. And I am standing here, buck naked, without any privacy.

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Anonymous David Truss said...

This was one of my first comments on Twitter after learning about buzz:
Not sure if I want to hug google or tell them to BUZZ off?
I think Buzz is both scary & has great potential to aggrigate my many digital presences into one convenient location.
Yet, I agree with your analogy. Do I want coworkers & my boss (or my students) to always have easy access to my facebook & tweets? Do I even want to make the decision of who sees what? What will people think when I choose not to show them something?
... The implications leave me standing exposed, naked, no matter what my choices are.

February 11, 2010 at 4:30 AM  

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