Google and Social Media: it’s a hard Wave goodbye

Secret transcript of Google’s visit to the psychoanalyst.

So with yesterday’s mercy killing of Google Wave, cure can Google actually succeed at social media? Should it even keep trying? Shel Israel says yes (and a great debate there) while others like Om Malik say emphatically no. But at Beg to Differ, we wondered: what’s going through Google’s own head? Well, weren’t we lucky to stumble across this secret transcript…

August 6th, Office of Dr. Frederich Fritzenhoffer, near Menlo Park California

Doctor: (in an outrageous German accent) Zo, Google. It has been a long time since your last visit. Please, sit on zee couch. How are you doing?

Google: (Uncomfortable) Oh pretty good Doc. You know. Pretty good.

Doctor: Really?

Google captured by papparazzi arriving at doctor's office.

Google: Okay, okay. Dude. Not so good. That’s why I’m here. Sorry Doc, I know I should see you more regularly. But things were going so good. Like, life was lookin’ awesome. Stocks good. Brand equity climbing. Until…

Doctor: Until what?

Google: Say, is that a new painting? I could index that for you…

Doctor: Stop avoiding please! So. What is zee problem? You haven’t decided to “be evil” have you?

Google: Hell no! I still believe in “Don’t Be Evil”. Um. Well, let’s say I’m… comfortable with my level of relative evilness. I even pulled out of China. On principle!

Doctor: (writing notes) Hmm. And zee search results?

Google: Still best in the business dude!

Doctor: I see. Able to keep zee profits up?

Google: Whoa! Now what do you mean by that?

Doctor: Just a simple question. I sense hostility.

Google: Sorry Doc. Yeah. No problems in the old “profit department”. Still raking in cashola, keeping expenses ridiculously low for the billions of dollars I make every quarter.  It’s, like, magic awesome money outta the air. Poof.

Doctor: But it’s not magic. You worked hard for that. Don’t you feel you’ve earned your success?

So, tell me about these search results....

Google: Oh sure… sure. Yeah. In the early days, I built a lot of great algorithms and stuff so everybody would do their searches through me, and they did. I even became a verb in the dictionary. I can pull that up for you…

Doctor: That won’t be necessary. Go on. Everybody was Googling this, Googling that?

Google: Yeah. And like, every time they did, I found a way to get more money from somebody else who wanted their eyeballs.

Doctor: Very impressive. And zee family?

Google: Still growing like crazy – last few years especially.  The birth of Chrome, Picasa, Maps, Earth, Gmail – all healthy, growing. Then of course the adoptions: Blogger, YouTube, Feedburner – they’re doing great too. And now even mobile stuff like Android. My head spins.

Doctor: It all sounds very happy. Very idyllic…

Google: (distant) Sure… One big happy, productive, profitable family….

Doctor: But there’s something else. Something you’re not telling me.

Google: Um…. well… it’s a tough question…

Doctor: Shall I prod some more? Look Google. I do read zee newspapers…

Google: Yeah? Me too. I scan them all every day in every major language and Swahili too. So what?

Doctor: Very well. If I must play zee hard ball…

Google: Oh please, no baseball metaphors. I’ve had it to here with the…


(long pause)

Oh Wave logo. We hardly knew ye

Google: Yes. (gulp) I pulled the plug… on… little Google Wave…

Doctor: (Gently) It was quite young.

Google: Less than a year…

Doctor: And you were so proud when we last spoke.

Google: It was… time, okay?

Doctor: Ah yes. All apps must die some day. But zis was no mere app. It was paradigm shift! New way of working! Zee future of collaboration!

Google: It was! It was beautiful! It was like e-mail meets productivity software meets real time chat meets So… So… Soc….

Doctor: Social Media? Is that so hard to say?

Google: NO! Dude! I can say it any time I want!

Doctor: Hmm. All right. Then try this. Say “Twitter” or “Facebook”, maybe “LinkedIn”.

Google: Twi… Twi… Twi…

Doctor: Something easier? Surely you can say “MySpace”? “FriendFeed”? Nobody even uses those anymore.

(Google, defeated, shakes head, chokes back tears)

Doctor: I see. How about “Buzz”?

(Google begins to sob)

Doctor: Not even “Google Buzz” – another one of your own children!?!  (pause) All right. Enough. I can see we’ve found zee problem.

Google: Yes. Oh God. (wailing) Why doesn’t anybody want to be so… so… social with ME?!? I’m Google! For years, they’ve searched the Internet with me, e-mailed their friends with me. I let them browse, blog, surf porn, and now even phone with me! I thought they loved me! But when they want to just hang out and have conversations, they go running to those other guys!

Doctor: I see. You feel a bit used?

Google: What is it Doc? Why won’t they be social with me? What do those other guys have that I don’t have?

Doctor: Well. At best I would say that you are socially awkward. At worst, if you kill any more applications, we may have to classify you as a sociopath…

(Old fashioned alarm clock bell rings)

Doctor: Oh. Time’s up.  These are all wonderful questions that we will have to discuss next time. In zee meantime, perhaps you should ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • Is my problem my nature – that is, am I genetically hard wired toward non-social transactions on zee Internet and so I cannot understand or think in a way that allows people to be truly social?
  • Or is it nurture – that is, have I cultivated a culture and an audience that simply won’t accept me – the Search tool – in this new world – where sharing and interacting are the key?
  • Can I overcome my nature or my nurture and succeed in this space – even though I have the money, the desire, and the ability to generate all this hype, is it worth pursuing this goal in the face of so many failures? Or should I just accept that a “Google” will never fill the same role in people’s lives as a “Facebook”?
  • Can I solve this problem with another baby – the much-rumoured Google Me? And doesn’t even that name show how deeply I miss the point of social media – that it’s not about Buzz, it’s not about a Wave, and it is definitely not about ME?

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