Is 20 percent project still followed at Google? One where every employee is recommended to spend 80% on the official job and 20% on the project of their choice? I wonder because every time we hear about the success of this particular experiment at Google, we hear about the same old handful of products. Mainly AdWords and Gmail.
Have there been no other successful products from this experiment? If yes, why don’t we hear more about them? If no, what has changed at the company? Has it grown too large to back small, hobby-like products? Is the environment not conducive for the small, hacky projects?
Marissa Mayer had famously quipped regarding the project, “I’ve got to tell you the dirty little secret of Google’s 20% time. It’s really 120% time”.
Maybe as the companies grow, the employees lose the sense of closeness, the sense of attachment they felt earlier. The sort of dedication that Mayer referred to just can’t be expected from an aloof employee.
I read this interesting perspective from Bálint where he argues that “Chrome is a Google Service that happens to include a Browser Engine”. I understand where he is coming from, but I believe the thought process needs to be dealt with and curbed before it gets commonly accepted.
Sure, Google would want to believe that Chrome is just one of their many services — it suits their business model. When they can move their trackers (and eventually ads) right to the tool that people access the internet with, they would know what everyone’s doing on the internet. But Google should not be allowed to get away by dumping the idea down its user’s throat. Sure, normal people may not be able to differentiate how logging in to a service and to Chrome is different. Or how login/session cookies for Google may screw up the security model on a shared computer.
But that exactly is the reason why people who understand better need to voice their disapproval. It is easy to say that it’s not a big deal as I am already better informed to not use Chrome. But it is also reckless — Chrome has already become a de facto browser for mainstream users. It’s a wrong precedent then to let people who cannot fully grasp (or aren’t inclined to out of sheer neglect) the basic underpinnings of the open web to drive what’s acceptable for a browser, and on the web. If that was allowed, Net neutrality would already have been a lost battle worldwide. Such decisions tend to be uninformed and harm the community in the longer run.
An internet service is a different entity, it serves a specific purpose. It solves a specific problem that an end user has. Gmail is an email client. YouTube is a video sharing service. Google Search is… well, it has long since stopped being just a search engine. But, one gets the idea. You access a URL and it brings you to the service.
Chrome is not that. Chrome is a tool that allows users access these different services. And it is better if it stays that way. It’s already bad that all browsers come with an incognito mode by default. It would be important that we do not introduce another mode just to go incognito from the owners of the browsers.
I am sure Bálint will agree and his final thought kind of sums it well.
Part of me feels that this Chrome shared computer issue that Googlers mentioned is real, but it’s also just too convenient to solve this by tieing Chrome closer to Google, you know?
Such a refreshing edit this published as part of Sunday Review at The New York Times. The contrast between people’s real lives and ones as perceived by their “friends” on social media is so succinctly articulated by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. Especially evident is the side of us exposed to Facebook as against Google (the search engine).
Alone with a screen and anonymous, people tend to tell Google things they don’t reveal to social media; they even tell Google things they don’t tell to anybody else. Google offers digital truth serum. The words we type there are more honest than the pictures we present on Facebook or Instagram.
Sometimes the contrasts in different data sources are amusing. Consider how wives speak about their husbands.
On social media, the top descriptors to complete the phrase “My husband is …” are “the best,” “my best friend,” “amazing,” “the greatest” and “so cute.” On Google, one of the top five ways to complete that phrase is also “amazing.” So that checks out. The other four: “a jerk,” “annoying,” “gay” and “mean.
I just could not have put this is in a better way. The fakeness of what streams at Facebook has always been at the crux of the platform being disliked by a vocal minority, especially the geeks. It won’t be too much of a stretch for the argument to say if it is not fake, it is not visible on the Facebook timeline.
How does one protect oneself from getting miserable at the hands of this streaming pile of curated noise?
Once you’ve looked at enough aggregate search data, it’s hard to take the curated selves we see on social media too seriously. Or, as I like to sum up what Google data has taught me: We’re all a mess.
Now, you may not be a data scientist. You may not know how to code in R or calculate a confidence interval. But you can still take advantage of big data and digital truth serum to put an end to envy — or at least take some of the bite out of it.
Any time you are feeling down about your life after lurking on Facebook, go to Google and start typing stuff into the search box. Google’s autocomplete will tell you the searches other people are making. Type in “I always …” and you may see the suggestion, based on other people’s searches, “I always feel tired” or “I always have diarrhea.” This can offer a stark contrast to social media, where everybody “always” seems to be on a Caribbean vacation.
Yep, the best lifehack I have read in a long long time. Amen.
There is a great edit on Ars Technica about “The secret lives of Google raters”. I found the section on how there always are some people, humans, behind all the AI Google, and Facebook, want to harp about. Following passage is a sheer eye-opener.
UCLA Information Studies professor Sarah Roberts has been studying the lives of raters for the past five years, traveling from California to the Philippines to interview workers. She told Ars that one constant in all their stories is that these workers feel isolated from the companies like Google and Facebook, even though most of their work benefits them. Some say that they know they work for Google, but Google doesn’t know they work there.
Roberts believes that big companies like Google want to keep raters hidden, largely because they like to boast about how many tasks they handle with AI. “Actually their AIs are people in the Philippines,” she told Ars by phone. “Are there algorithms in all these tasks? Sure. Is it 100 percent? Not even close. There’s some kind of profit motive behind these claims [about how] machines and algorithms run the show.”
The plight of these raters is real. For all the advancements in AI and automation, there is always some “dirty” work that’s deemed too unimportant, too trivial, to only be pushed “down” to humans. The trend is disquieting.
“I start reading something” … “I need to blog this” … “Wasn’t the other topic better?” … “Okay stop. Let me read this out first” .. “Am done; I need to blog this” … “I will blog this” … “Let me get the topic open” … “Yeahh… my N93” … “Oh blog; .. theme … no.. blog .. title .. wait ..post … ” .. “Where the heck was I???? “
Ok so this is how my thought train has been when i thought i will write this post. And lemme say, this just acts as the ‘POF’ (Proof of Fact) for what i will be writing now. Let us get on the same platform first. This post (Will you please not follow the links directly and loose this topic..Thanks) was inspired partly by this and this. I hope you are still there with me. Because if you were not for some significant amount of time, thats what this post is all about. Reducing concentration levels… POF you see …
I am pretty sure most of the so-called experienced internet surfers would have reached at this point far late than they would normally have. Because i have become one of those and i damn know that he would atleast have done few of following:
- Google for some random text (Default)
- Peeped into GTalk friends list
- Checked whether have received any new mail
- Checked if all social friends are up and running
- Followed into void via atleast 3 Links
- If yes for 3, Gave a thought and made a point for each one of them
- Oh ya .. paid some bill
- Rejected atleast a single credit card offer
- And oh ya .. worked 😛
I guess the list would build on n on. Anyways the point is surely you wouldn’t have, if you have become one of us, read till now at a single strech. (I would really like to know what you indeed did. Put in the comments section. Hold on… Read completely first)
Ok i won’t try and find the reasons for why this is happening because that is not going to help me understand any damn thing. Let that job be left for some XYZ research group of companies. What i would actually try is provide some ways i can become a normal being from a ‘skull-headed vaccum with rags of information’ which am now. Let me start listing them down.
- Update Google searh bar: I feel google can hugely impact a large sector of us concentration loosers. If only they ask for some not-so-privacy-threatning but self-embarrassing queries before returing the result. Lets say, “For how much hours have you worked today”.
- Redesign Operating Systems: Huge step i know. The one i would design is, i would say, mainly a build over on MS Vista. Ok , so you want switch program? Start. “Do you really want to open …? Yes/No“, “Enter your Password ******“, “Please re-enter the password ******“, “Thank You! Please select the program you want to open. Enter the number in from of the selection“, “Enter the text in captcha“, “Thank you! Click Finish to open the program” and finally “Your request to open ____ has been successfully served. OK/Back” I am damn sure this will majorly kill the frequent ALT+TAB s
- Introduce Sticky Books: Ok what if i want am not the comp junkie and still cherish the hardcopies? How can i be glued to the plot in the book? Fine. We will manually and physically do that for you. The books will be fitted with microprocessors programmed for secreting glues for defined time period which would be not less than 1 hour. You see. Its that simple.
- Rename weekdays: Ok so point is inject a standard work schedule through out the human fraternity. Lets make each focus on a particular kind of job on the specified day. I would suggest let the week names be Funday (random fun), Moneyday(Money Matters), Teamday(Social Team Building), Workday (I know .. Boring Day), Surfday(Random Internet Surfing), Reworkday(Yeah .. 2 of them. Afterall thats what one is paid for) and Saturday (!!!!)
I know these options do sound rather ludicrous and more apparent changes like stop building multiprocessing processors or build ‘one system one application’ OSes might sound sensible. But then it is a “Build dam for water leaks” kinda solution. Anyways that’s my foolish take on this not-so-foolish topic. Comment in your solutions, however foolish they may sound. Remember, there are many like you around you…
Finally must say I have always been a workaholic enthusiast … What remains now is just an -aholic enthusiast surfing endlessly in void.
PS: If you have read this post in a single strech, i am damn sure you have just crumbled into wrong space. Click the back arrow button at the top-left corner of this window.
Update: Another interesting take on the same line. I am stupid and the Internet made me so