All Around The Web

There have been a lot of great conversations around and about some of my recent posts; Here are some highlights. My post about Google’s Microsoft Moment seems to have really struck a nerve. First amongst the responses, from my perspective, is prominent Googler Matt Cutts’ “Why Googlers should read Anil Dash’s post. The open-mindedness and willingness to take constructive criticism that Matt shares with a number of his colleagues at Google (I’d also highlight Karen Wickre, who helps lead Google’s efforts in blogging and on Twitter) are going to be the factor that decides whether or not Google falls prey to the dangers outlined in that essay. Matt concludes his comments with a simple, and inspiring exhortation:

Googlers, ask yourself how you can help make another one of those moments where you’re proud to work at Google. I think those moments are a great way to keep from becoming just another large company. And if Googlers are open to posts like Anil Dash’s, the web is tell us tons of things it wants us to do, or how to do them better.

Some other notable conversations around these ideas popped up as well:

  • The presciently-named (but independent) Google Operating System blog offers up Google’s Changing Corporate Culture.
  • Ex-Googler, current FriendFeeder and all-around good guy Kevin Fox takes issue with some of my points in Google’s Apple Moment. Kevin raises the point that a lot of Googlers did: It’s okay for Google to have two different operating systems because they serve two different markets. I don’t disagree — I did ask in my original essay “If the keyboard works with my fingers instead of my thumbs, I should use Chrome OS and not Android?” and folks at Google have already responded to me privately with, in effect, “Actually, that might not be such a bad way to put it…” My point, though, was not that it doesn’t make good technical sense to have these systems. Rather, that sort of roadmap complexity makes it hard for casual outside observers to believe that their needs are being put ahead of the company’s platform ambitions. I’ll chalk up the lack of clarity there to my own poor editing and the fact that John Gruber highlighted that bit on Daring Fireball, which may have put more focus on what was a relatively minor point.
  • I loved, and totally agree with, Mini-Microsoft’s Microsoft Has Turned The Corner. This makes explicit what was part of the subtext of my essay: Even Microsoft doesn’t do this kind of shifty crap anymore, if they can help it. And to their credit, Microsoft since Ray Ozzie’s ascension has also seemed to regain their ambition and clarity around creating innovative products. I’m not sure if that’s correlation or causation, but it’s good to see regardless, and this is a post well worth reading in full.
  • One of my favorite bloggers, Mike Masnick of TechDirt, asks Has Google Reached The Perception Tipping Point? The post consists of the single word “Yes.” Okay, not really, but it’s still thoughtfully argued and especially highlights Google’s recent track record in the area of intellectual property and DRM, which is TechDirt’s strongest suit.
  • Finally, a couple more mentions in bigger media: BusinessWeek’s Rob Hof offers up a critical look at Google’s strategy, which is a welcome change from most mainstream press that tend to slavishly puff up any pronouncement of this scale that comes out of the tech industry. Similarly, Alex Pham at the LA Times puts the Chrome OS story in the context of Microsoft’s Office 2010 announcement today. Matt Asay has an even more skeptical take over at CNET. And finally I thought MG Siegler’s brief post about the back-and-forth between me and Matt Cutts offered up a nice perspective on the perils and potential of this inflection point in Google’s evolution.

Here’s a two-fer: Chris Anderson’s CNN Commentary on Google, Microsoft, and Free. Chris ruminates on whether the tech giants’ habit of entering new markets with free products funded by the obscene margin they make in their primary lines of business is going to face legal scrutiny in the future. Recommended if you liked either Google’s Microsoft Moment or Free Criticism, Science After Data and Airport Books.

Reason mag’s Tim Cavanaugh had an amusing riff that referenced that post of mine from the other day: Resolved: The New York Times Should Be Staffed By Volunteers, Like Meals On Wheels. I thought it was a fun read, at least.

And if you’re seeking out even more comment on these topics, Silicon Alley Insider has a pretty fun thread in response to my Free Criticism post, along with a slightly more inane one in response to last month’s post about The Future of Facebook Usernames.

Finally, some stuff that’s actually related to my day job:

  • Tony Dearing at has a really smart take on a conversation we had about what that site is doing to make a real community-focused local news website. I think the current team has the best chance at success of any of the dozens of similar efforts I’ve seen over the past several years.
  • In a similar vein, Ken Edwards has a detailed look at what it’s taken to build the new BG Views community at Bowling Green State University. It’s always fun to watch a project like that from afar and get to see a new community take off.

Thanks to everyone for great comments on my previous posts, and even more for the inspiring conversations that have happened around these topics. And a specialy thanks to the many of you who’ve shared links to these pieces on Twitter: @padmasree, @timoreilly were instrumental in kicking off the broader conversation around the recent Google post, and it was really gratifying to see @wilw find a quote in my Free Criticism essay that really seems to have struck a nerve.