24 January 2012

Can't Find My Way Home

I have a second fifteen seconds of fame over on Simple Talk, here. In the course of the commentary, I was asked why Google is a toy application, along with Facebook and Twitter. What follows is a much longer version of what I posted.

Look closely at Google, and all you've got left is a massive advert agency. Adverts are important to life? Advert engines advance civilization? Of course not. We Yanks are fascinated with "Mad Men" in a tee-hee sort of way, yet base more of our system building, and one might assert our economy, on selling adverts. Rather than making things for ourselves, we make insubstantial playthings. Psychologists call this behaviour cognitive dissonance.

Decisions, and the actions which follow from them, are manifestations of value judgments. To the extent that our systems building efforts concentrate on toys rather than meaningful (for some definition of that) systems, we've revealed what it is we value. Pixelated toys. I'd love to hear an argument that Facebook and Twitter etc. represent advancement of civilization. And, no, they're not improvements in communication.

The share price just got spanked because they've not kept up the advert machinery, consuming all advertising on the planet. If they manage that, then what?

Facebook just arbitrarily skunked its users.

These are toy applications since their only point is to support play. They encourage adolescent tribalism, which the planet doesn't need in excess. The vehicle is fancier than passing notes in class back when your grandfather was a kid, but it's the same behaviour only prettier to do.

For a more formal, and literate, take on the issue, read up Nick Carr. He also has an infrequently posted blog.

From a purely systems point of view, Google is a re-hash of code/file systems from the 1960's. Size isn't distinguishing. Read the Wikipedia write up on Map/Reduce.

Wikipedia is a more important piece of software.

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