Google SVP Rosenberg’s Tome On Social Challenges, The Internet And Google’s Future
Google’s SVP of Product Management Jonathan Rosenberg posted yesterday on the Google Blog, turning an internal memo into a public article. He used the occasion of the US President’s Day holiday to discuss Google’s sense of the political and social challenges of the moment as well as a vision for the future of search and […]
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It’s long and I’m not going to do a deep dive on the piece (I’ll leave that to Danny if he wants). Instead I’ll pull out and comment on a few things that struck me. Rosenberg’s words are in italics, mine are in parentheses until my final thoughts at the bottom.
Ours is much more than a passing role in this next phase of history, rather we have the responsibility and duty to make the Internet as great as it can possibly be.
(The surrounding discussion preceding this statement implies that Google and the internet are synonymous for many people.)
More Internet-enabled phones will be sold and activated in 2009 than personal computers. China is a prime example of where these trends are coming together. It has more Internet users than any other country, at nearly 300 million, and more than 600 million mobile users — 600 million! Twenty-five years ago, Apple launched the Mac as “the computer for the rest of us.” Today, the computer for the rest of us is a phone.
(This reflects how seriously and strategically Google sees mobile; mobile is the future of the Internet for many people as Rosenberg points out.)
Why should a user have to ask us a question to get the information she needs? With her permission, why don’t we surf the web on her behalf, and present interesting and relevant information to her as we come across it?
(This implies some future mix of search personalization, behavioral targeting/recommendations and maybe alerts)
One thing that we have learned in our industry is that people have a lot to say. They are using the Internet to publish things at an astonishing pace. 120K blogs are created daily — most of them with an audience of one. Over half of them are created by people under the age of nineteen. In the US, nearly 40 percent of Internet users upload videos, and globally over fifteen hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute . . .
No one argues the value of free speech, but the vast majority of stuff we find on the web is useless. The clamor of junk threatens to drown out voices of quality . . .
Just like a newspaper needs great reporters, the web needs experts. When it comes to information, not all of it is created equal and the web’s future depends on attracting the best of it . . .We need to make it easier for the experts, journalists, and editors that we actually trust to publish their work under an authorship model that is authenticated and extensible, and then to monetize in a meaningful way.
(Crap content and spam threatens Google’s utility and usage over time; how does Google do a better job of separating authoritative and interesting content from garbage? This discussion of experts and quality is one of the most interesting bits in the post. It has implications for Google’s search results and algorithim and also struck me as a veiled reference to knol or initiatives like it.)
Within the next decade, people will use their computers completely differently than how they do today. All of their files, correspondence, contacts, pictures, and videos will be stored or backed-up in the network cloud and they will access them from wherever they happen to be on whatever device they happen to hold. Access to data, applications, and content will be seamless and device-agnostic.
(Rosenberg takes a couple of indirect shots at Microsoft in this section but is correct about the broad trend; however he acknowledges that the cloud isn’t secure or robust enough for enterprises yet.)
The overall gist of the article is that Google sits at the center of key social and technology trends: the Internet as all-purpose medium and data source, mobile and cloud computing as key near-term trends and a host of new applications using data and technology that help solve social problems and allow for new types of commercial transactions.
Interestingly Rosenberg doesn’t talk about free or cheap ubiquitous Internet access to facilitate all this.
Some of this is idealism that won’t come to pass and some of this is product roadmap that will. But it offers some interesting insights into where Google is placing big bets for its future.
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