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Google The Stealth Social Network?
Google’s plan to socialize its various applications continues. Google
Operating System has
spotted code in Gmail that may lead to a
Facebook-style news feed
of status updates from your Gmail contacts. More about this and Google’s
continued “stealth social network” moves below.
Back in September, Google
launched a friends
update feature on Orkut.
Activity Streams & Other Social Nuggets From Leaked Google Video covers this
plus how Google is working to create “activity streams” for all of its products
as a way to make them more social and akin to Facebook.
In October, Google got behind
OpenSocial, a way
for various social platforms to share social data and let developers produce
applications for that data. However, so far OpenSocial doesn’t seem to have done
much to socialize Google products. Instead, Google seems to be continuing along
the lines of making (often mistaken) assumptions that people in your Gmail
contacts are also those you’d want to share stuff with.
A nice article in
November from the New York Times looked more at the role that Gmail might play
as an “Inbox 2.0″ to socialize Google. But in December, we saw the first serious
application of this.
Google Reader Gets
Social With Friends Shared Items covers how in December Gmail contacts were
assumed to be “friends” that you’d want to share feed items with.
Keeping It Private On
Google Reader covers how many disagreed with that. To date, it still remains
the case that people that Google considers your “friends” (even
if they aren’t) in Gmail will automatically get notified if you share an
In today’s Google Operating System post, Ionut lists a few other places where
things are shared, ranging from Picasa activity to items saved via
Google Shared Stuff.
However, I don’t see that my Gmail contacts somehow automatically notify me if
they save to shared stuff. Yes, you can share — but it’s one way, as far as I
can tell, and also only broadcast to people who you choose to invite. In
contrast, the Google Reader change was more proactively going out and telling
people about what you’re doing. As for Picasa, you see activity of things you’ve
subscribed to — similar to how YouTube subscriptions work. That’s different
then automatically getting told about things that your contacts are doing.
Still, it seems likely more proactive activity stream-style socialization is
coming. If Google’s smart, they’ll put a hold on this stuff until they come up
with a clear and unified way for it to be rolled out and controlled by users.
Instead, so far, we’ve gotten this piecemeal rollout of Orkut feeds, Google
Reader sharing, and new
I used to call Google the stealth portal because of how it rolled out portal
features without being obvious about it. It would be a mistake if it becomes the
stealth Facebook or stealth social network. The last thing you want in the
social space, where privacy is such a big concern, is a feeling that you’re
sneaking up on people.
By the way, don’t forget that Google Maps continues to be a major area where
Google is playing in the social space. Some recent posts about that:
- Google Turning My
Maps Into Social Mapping Platform With Collaboration, Ratings, And Comments
- Google Allows
Group Collaboration On My Maps
- Google Maps Goes
Wikimapia, Lets The People Move The Map Points
Also see discussion about today’s news