I watch a lot of Google, looking for my queries, doing vanity searches, testing it's latest tools and trying to figure out where the company is going. The eerily dystopian EPIC movie aside, there are some short-term speculative thoughts I have.
The launch of Google Video is directly coincidental with the rise of vlogging, or video blogging. Some say that we are going to see an explosion in The Internet Of Video:
Now that video can be produced cheaply and with reasonable production values, and now that it can be affordably distributed and perhaps even easily monetized, will we see an emerging new class of "video site producers" rather than classic textual content.
For this Google Video search must incorporate vlogs and vogs, but should be a piece of cake for them. The trick is - how do you get millions of users to bypass the task of uploading their videos onto a server, specially from low-bandwidth areas? I think Google has a solution - the end of uploading.
Also, vlogging needs vloggers to go out and shoot video, which will relieve them of their PC-bound slavery and re-insert their physical selves into the material world. That's a relief, if you ask me.
Something cool is emerging out of the soup we call Blogosphere, and it's got a funky rhythm. Blogs are taking a lyrical form, as suggested in this transcript of a "vog":
The model we should adopt is musical. 1. The format of the videoblog is the pop song (short, repetitive, lyrical). 2. There is a range of production styles, skills and aesthetics (from punk to the postproduced control of any contemporary pop diva). 3. Content varies from country ballads or blues to the post-advertising hooks of teens and tweens (Robert Johnson to Jessica Simpson?). 4. The form will support and evolve into numerous styles (like pop music, like blogs). 5. Like popular music the works will be about repetition - what will the chorus of your video be? 6. The basic units in a vog are musical. It is not about filmic narrative, the linear cause and effect of most popular television and cinema. They are melodic chunks that get placed in variable relations to each other. 7. At the moment we are all garage bands. Some won't stay there.
Digital cameras won't be enough to fill the void. Add ubiquitous cameraphones to videoblogging, and you're got a wireless web of video, audio and static images - which may be followed by a kind of hypervideo linkage mechanism or "connected moving images". In addition to this, photo-sharing and screencasting will also add to the visual information sphere available to information seekers. Google knows this, and that's why you have Picasa 2, I reckon.
That brings us to Gmail. An email account that stores your information as a conversation is uncannily close to a blog. In fact, I share my primary passwords with trusted collaborators, making my Gmail a sort of private blog. It keeps haunting me that Gmail accounts can be used as a network drive. What does it all hint towards?
In textual content, you may now see an integration of websites, blogs, SMSes and even email into one textual sphere.
There have been some rumours about how developers of Firefox are being secretly hired by Google to develop their own Gbrowser. In my opinion that would be a futile move, since it would make much better sense for Google to take over Firefox, just like they took over Blogger. My reasons for saying so:
Firefox's download manager has a "pause and resume" facility, and it can incorporate Google's browser buttons. "Pause and resume" is a decidedly P2P downloader application, and combined with a shared folder option in Google's Desktop Search - it integrates every user of the desktop search tool into a global P2P network, which we can call the Grid - the integral of all Google tools. The Grid will have it's own problems, which we will come to later in this post.
Google is a very smart company, as opposed to Bittorrent, for example. It did launched a P2P downloader and expanded it to become BlogTorrent. While BitTorrent may be responsible for 35% of Internet traffic, they are probably a small fraction of Internet users. However, when it comes to users, Google is unbeatable.
Google still remains a search company in the service of a planet of 'seekers'. A Google P2P search means the end of uploading.
When uploading ends, data is only being downloaded into the user's information sphere. The time he spent in uploading is now being used in pulling in information. There is a lot of noise in this stream, in this crazy flux.
Spam filters and encrypted e-mail are not really working in the interest of the user. Messages from strangers are sometimes important business opportunities, and they get tagged as trash, which reflects negatively on the application. What I'm really interested in seeing is - how is Google's Grid going to handle information overload. Is the future of media a pure Search? Will I only receive information that I want to receive and subscribe to, or will there be exciting and annoying surprises included?
In fact, the basic question is - how much and what kind of information will I receive?
This is different from bandwidth in the sense that we are simply talking about the load of incoming information pointed at the user. Bandwidth may be unlimited for Google or another computer network, but the human mind has it's limits.
I don't think Google will venture into that field since it's power lies in making it's users powerful. An all-powerful company will only accelerate it's own decline. Google's recent API release which allows advertisers to interact directly with Adsense servers is almost beyong customisation and user-friendliness - it's closer to open source, which is nice to see.
The issue remains - what happens when the voltage exceeds it's permissible threshold? When the user loses control of his informational construct, who is going to take over for him?
What killer application will decide that some information coming in is critical, and some non-critical for the user?
re: Google just taking over Firefox
Except that Firefox/Mozilla is Open Source and can't be bought like Blogger was.
But I don't think that the rumors about a GBrowser were about Google creating a whole new browser; they were more about Google - through the power of Open Source - adapting and creating a version of Firefox that would be Google-branded.
I agree with you speculations on vlogging. I think people are and will get tired of the overbiased corporate network media. Vlogging will draw those who are TV junkies, and refuse to read, to find alternative sources of information. Blogging is powerful, but vlogging has the potential of competing with large networks as the mode of media distribution moves from TV broadcasts to the internet.