Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 25th May 2013 00:45 UTC
Google "So in summary... Google has pulled the plug on support on a protocol they've helped popularize, after years of promising interoperability, for reasons that are dubious at best, and in a way that leaves people who don't jump to the new Hangouts app unable to talk to their contacts without any feedback that their IMs aren't getting through... And they've done that with no warning to anyone. I imagine there's a bunch of people out there wondering where some of their buddies have gone, or why their messages aren't getting responses, because this isn't documented anywhere." Google really messed this up. Such a dick move.
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What is wrong with this picture?
by orfanum on Sun 26th May 2013 08:13 UTC
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I find it a gentle irony that we have this piece not long after an article here regarding which people were, despite its acknowledging Google's many faults (, more or less invited to stand by the company because it is after all and at bottom about "being open" and is "developer friendly" .

What I am about to say is not intended to be flamebait or to ridicule or undermine that vast repository of intelligence and dedication which is the global network of coders and developers. What I would hope is that people will take the message in the spirit in which it is offered, and try to rethink all the implications of the use of 'open' in the context of organisations such as Google.

In short, there's a class of coder that is unwittingly putting itself in the position of not only appearing to be very (perhaps increasingly) naive but also of duping ordinary users. The result may be that the kinds of openness that they deliberately and rightly support to enable a global community utilising accessible and sensibly rational global services and tools will be undermined by the very adherence to a concept of 'open' that is too narrowly and too technically defined.

I am not saying there's a direct or primary correlation in this specific case between Google's 'now too big to fail' size and its promotion of 'open', nor am I saying that on the whole, your regular user of the Internet cares a great deal about this tussle about what constitutes 'open' in a conscious way.

However, what is 'open'? Is open a bunch of code whose licence is couched in a certain way or is it that plus a mode of transparent and active communication with user and developers, that plus a decidedly more ethical means of doing business, that plus whatever else you could think of that really would make up an entity where 'do no evil' was a precept to live by rather than a marketing slogan?

Unless these other aspects are encoded (forgive the pun) into our minds then (and this is the controversial bit) in a sense the absolute and uncompromising demand on the part of that sort of developer who expects to exercise complete and concrete code-sharing freedom is actually based on the hidden, intangible consequence that millions and perhaps billions (remember the new guy at Android saying recently that the exciting thing for him is the 'next 5 billion' of the global population that does not yet have a smartphone?!) will lose their freedoms to privacy, to effective choice, to 'good' or even 'less evil' options.

In short, Google uses 'open' like the angler fish uses its lure, and its mouth sure is wide open as it swallows you whole. And perhaps soon, no, there won't be 'plenty more fish in the sea'. The question is, are developers intelligent enough to avoid that evolutionary trap and stay in the gene pool, to fortify the real DNA of choice and freedom?


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