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We The People… In Order To Form a More Perfect Google

by PotPieGirl on September 1, 2011 · 96 comments

jennifer ledbetter

Turns Out I DO Remember Something From College!

Oh Google, how I love to analyze thee! In the past couple of weeks or so I’ve been even more intense on answering one big question for myself – What the heck does Google want?!?! I am a firm believer that by giving what others need, you end up getting what you need (even if that “other” is a computer program). I came to the realization that my answer I’ve had in my mind all along was wrong (yes, I was wrong…lol) and the real answer came to me when I reflected on something I learned at my college orientation.

My College Orientation

Many, many years ago, I went to college (West Georgia College, for anyone who is interested). I remember something that was said during the big orientation meeting we had.

The speaker said, “Look to your left. Now, look to your right. TWO of you will NOT graduate”.

I remember thinking, “That guy is nuts! Of course I’ll graduate…and so will my friends on either side of me!!”

Well guess what? None of us graduated. Actually, I can think of at least 5 of us in the row that fateful day that didn’t graduate. Doesn’t say much, does it? Especially when the national rate for completing a 4-year degree is right about 50%. Or maybe we were all just a bunch of quitters…lol!

Anyway…. Let me get back to Google.

In any given place or time when there are other people around you – Look to your left. Now, look to your right. Two out of the three of you are already giving Google what they want.

Say What?!?!?

Google’s market share was reported to be 65.5% in June 2011. That’s pretty much 2 out of 3, isn’t it?

Two out of three people that use a search engine use Google. That’s MAJOR!

No other search engine comes even remotely close to that. Google has a strong hold on the search business.

But why do they care?

Their main product… heck, their original product was their search index, right? But that, in itself, doesn’t make money and make stockholders happy.

Wait – money? Stockholders? What the heck do those things have to do with what Google wants?

Oh, a LOT!

You see, Google is a BUSINESS. They are not here offering all these free products and apps from the goodness of their heart. There’s a reason for everything they do.

Oh, wait… It’s their advertising, right? That’s their main product!

Well, yes and no.

The overwhelming majority of Google’s revenue comes from their advertising service (AdWords). In fact, in a recent post here at PotPieGirl.com, the infographic on that page shows that 97% of Google’s revenue is from advertising.

But let’s go further…

LOTS of companies and places online offer advertising. What makes Google so special?

And THAT something that makes Google so special is at the heart of what Google wants – and what Google does.

Yes, two out of three of us are already giving “it” to them, but Google really wants ALL of us to give it to them.

What is the “it”?

Our information.

Every single thing that Google offers us for free…. everything they do to move forward…is all designed to get one thing. To get our information.

Google’s main product is NOT their search engine.. it’s NOT gmail or AdWords.

It is US.

WE are Google’s product.

The info we give freely via our use of their free tools gives them this amazing database of info that helps advertisers do better with their AdWords ads. The better advertisers do – the better Google does.

All the information that Google collects enables advertisers to put their ad right smack in front of VERY targeted audiences.

Tell me any other online advertising platform that does that AND has the huge majority of online attention from consumers.

The only way Google can do that is with OUR information…and the ability to continue to gather more and more information.

Anyone can offer advertising…but no one has the ability or the reach to do it like Google does.

Think about what Google is capable of doing. Wait, think about what Google has already done.

Let’s flash back a few years…

The US economy went to you-know-where in a handbag. One part of it was the housing market.

That wonderful thing called a “sub-prime mortgage” that enabled anyone and everyone get into an owned home went CRASH when the terms of those loans became unaffordable for those home-owners.

People panic in that situation (naturally!) So, what do they do?

Off to Google they go, searching for phrases with words like “mortgage” and “refinance”.

Google was charging $20 to $30 a CLICK for advertisers to put their ad right smack in front of these folks. I have no doubt that Google certainly cashed in on the fact that US home owners were in danger of losing their homes.

And for the companies that advertised there…companies like Lending Tree, Nextag, and LowerMyBills…yeah, I bet they did pretty darn well, too.

Google made a killing from our economy going bad.

But that’s business, right? Not everyone goes broke in a bad economy.

Google was able to make that money because of the information they gather and the ability to allow advertisers to use it to their best advantage.

Did You Know…

Did you know that Google had a big problem after it was revealed that their Google street view cars were also collecting a TON of information from homes and businesses that didn’t have a secure WiFi connection?

Oh yeah, it’s true (tho Google claims it was an accident).

While we think those cars are out there taking pictures for Google Maps and their nifty Street View option, they were also collecting lots of other information.

It’s been coined the Google WiFi Scandal.

“Even creepier, it turns out Google was tracking who had wi-fi hot-spots in all the homes they were photographing. Street-by-street, your SSID names and MAC addresses for routers were being fed into Google databases. Note; the word “creepy” for this endeavor is from Google’s now departing CEO, Eric Schmidt, who admitted in an interview that a lot of folks may be uneasy with Google’s actions.

But creepiest of all —and where we enter the world of criminal behavior – those Google cars were apparently collecting personal information from those wi-fi connections, including full emails, instant messages and other data. Governments around the world are now investigating this illegal violation of privacy laws. Estimates are that Google wi-spy cars illegally took over 600 gigabytes of data from millions of individual homes, making the Google Wi-Spy scandal the largest global breach of privacy laws in modern history.”

Kinda creepy, huh? But that’s how important what Google wants IS to them. They want all the information that they can possible gather.

Know what’s crazy? The FTC dropped investigations into this WiFi scandal!

” In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) dropped investigations into the wi-spy scandal last fall and documents that the Electronic Privacy Information Center just received through a FOIA request found FTC investigators describing the Google WiFi investigation as a “wasted summer” and hoped that a Capitol Hill briefing on Google WiFi “won’t be too much of a time suck.””

“Wasted summer”? A “time suck”? Really? Wow.

However, when you look at the amount of money Google puts into government lobbying – especially the major spike in the second quarter of 2011, well, you can’t help but wonder, can ya? In fact, some have speculated that the government is in on it.

All of this is Google protecting what they WANT.

So all this time I’ve been telling people that Google wants to protect their product – their search engine – and in order for us to do better, we have to give Google what they want – quality results for their searches.

I was wrong.

Ya see – yes, Google wants quality results when people search. When people search, Google gathers info. If their search results are NOT “quality”, people stop searching on Google AND that means that they stop sharing their information.

When their product (ie, we the people) become unhappy with the results on Google search or with ANY Google product/service, we go somewhere else and Google loses their product (ie, we the people AND we the people’s information).

We the People, in order to form a more perfect Google….

We are Google. It is “We The People” that made Google as powerful as it is. Granted, they DID create the technology to gather all that info and offer free products that the majority of us love to use…but it still took US to make them a powerhouse.

I think we should all be offered free shares of stock in Google ;)

At least get paid for our time using Google products! (I won’t hold my breath on either of those ideas)

While I was collecting information for this post, I came across a great post at DailyKos.com. It’s titled: “You’re Not Google’s Customer — You’re the Product“. It’s really good and a highly-recommended read.

In fact, Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) entered that very article into Congressional Record during a hearing on Internet Privacy.

He was quoted as saying…

“I’d like to get your take on this article I read, “You’re Not Google’s Customer, You’re the Product.” It lays out an interesting scenario of who is the customer and who is the product. In many cases, you are the customer if you go into a store and pay money. In some of these cases, not just with Google but all these companies who have this kind of business model, are you really the customer if you aren’t paying for anything and your actions on their website is what is used to go sell advertising?”

Totally something to think about, isn’t it?

I’m going to leave you with something else to think about – and it makes all of this visual for you (found it at Marketing Pilgrim)

To me, this clearly depicts how every move Google makes is designed to gather info and get their ads out to as many people on as many devices and platforms as possible.

Google uses the info from We The People so they can advertise better to and make more money from We The People. Brilliant!

So take a look at the image below and scroll through it.

Yep, it’s a BIG infographic, but I really like it. Take your time, really look at it…and then let me know what you think.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Google Timeline



{ 96 comments }

Richard September 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Rupert Murdoch, eat your heart out.

This could be an outline for the latest James Bond movie :)

Seriously, it is kind of scary how much control google does have. George Orwell was very close in his book 1984, Big Brother is most certainly watching, and we’re happily providing him with the information he wants. Facebook also plays a massive part in all this.

I wonder who’s watching me type this? At the moment, it’s just a big black labrador. But who else???

Keep up the good work :)

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:08 pm

I think my 2 cats were watching your big black lab!!! (love Labs, btw!)

Would make for a good movie, wouldn’t it?

LIsa September 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Hi Jennifer. I’m not totally sure what the point of this post is. Just information? Google hating? Your post convinced me that Google is even better at what they do than I thought they were. Was that your point?

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Hey Lisa =)

Totally NOT “Google hating” – I love Google. It’s all so fascinating to me! My point? To get people thinking… looking at the bigger picture….

LIsa September 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Ok, I can see that. I did like the bigger picture. I think it’s also fascinating that a bunch of SEOs are now passing around this big picture with an ad for an online casino at the bottom. Someone is really good at what they do :)

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I really like to get people thinking, but I’m not big on telling people WHAT to think. However, in my humble opinion, this is something we should all be thinking about. Google isn’t getting smaller, ya know?

I think the graphic is great!

Rick September 1, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Wow. I wonder if there will be a class action suit over Google’s spying (I mean information gathering). I would love to hear them explain how it was an accident that cars with cameras mounted on their roofs somehow collected unprotected wifi info. from private homes.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:22 pm

They explained it like this on their post on the Official Google Blog:

“So how did this happen? Quite simply, it was a mistake. In 2006 an engineer working on an experimental WiFi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast WiFi data. A year later, when our mobile team started a project to collect basic WiFi network data like SSID information and MAC addresses using Google’s Street View cars, they included that code in their software—although the project leaders did not want, and had no intention of using, payload data. “

Tony September 1, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I just wish I could actually make a few quid online..other than ebay…everything seems so difficult.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Hang in there, Tony!

Tony September 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I wish I could just find a way to make a few $$$ per month. Ive tried building sites..seo..articles..but no traffic and no sales either..thing is not everyone can get onto the first page of Google can they? it all seems to be a bit hypothetical. On eBay..you actually do make money selling products..not pipe dreams…I can’t see anything else to make money really…far too many products in affiliate marketing telling you how to make money..but they are all the same. Maybe it’s just me..

Roger September 1, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Lisa,

I was going to ask the same thing – what’s the take-away?

Google is great, but who knows what we could have done with CIA startup funding?

Roger.

P.S. Site looks great Jennifer. I need a designer like that for my Thesis websites (except my photo in header won’t look near as good as yours!)

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:24 pm

The take-away? I think we should all get free shares of Google stock ;)

Thanks for the PS!

Roger September 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Sometimes I wonder how good Google Ad targeting is.

Half the time they are showing me ads for something I recently bought – but is not a consumable and therefore will NOT buy again SOON. But I do get TIRED of seeing the same ads!

Adsense on my sites has nose-dived, even tho traffic is same to UP!

Roger.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Crazy, isn’t it Roger?

LIsa September 1, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Yes, roger I have seen that too. For as good as they are, they don’t know when you have bought the item. I wish we, as consumers, could click a box on the ad that says “I have bought this item already – stop showing me ads for it” and get normal ads. I don’t mind being sold to at all, but it does get irritating to see the same stuff over and over again.

My adsense has also tanked – but today it’s back really, really strong (the first of the month). I wonder if that’s because of low advertiser spending more than because of the ads google is showing.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Lisa, I’d love a button like that too. Good idea!

First part of the month has been better for me lately too. Like you, I think it’s lower spending/budgets of advertisers and they “run out” at the end of the month.

Wally September 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm

This graphic is awesome! It’s kind of easy to look at something like this and then force yourself to remember that they try to “not be evil”, but it’s sometimes hard. I’m very interested to see what happens with Android devices and how they use them to 1) Squash competition and 2) figure out every single thing we are thinking before we think it.

Regardless, they sure are fun to watch!

Wally

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I love the graphic too!

Google is a business – period. I also can’t wait to see what’s ahead!

Peonies Wedding September 1, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I passed one of those strange looking Google Streetview cards for the first time on the exit ramp of the freeway today. Its such a coincidence that you post talks about them.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

That’s pretty neat! I’ve never seen one….

myBuddyonMaui September 1, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Lego… who’da thunk it?

I want a T-Rex skeleton too!!

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I like the Lego thing too… that’s what led them to pick that primary colors scheme for Google (it’s Lego colors)

Steve S September 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Pretty smart stuff from a college dropout! Honestly Google scares me. This is too 1984 “Big Brother Is Watching You”

I have always known what Google is after is information. Isn’t that really what a search engine is? There is no such thing as a free lunch and Google is anything but Mr. Nice Guy.

I am going to commit blasphemy here and say I wish Google was broken up. They are too powerful and personal information and knowledge too important for anyone to have a monopoly on. They are probably gathering intelligence for the government too which is why the investigation was dropped.

Personally I no longer use either Webmaster Tools or Google Analytics. Yeah it’s “free” and useful but the information they collect about your sites can and will be used against you. And no I am not being paranoid as I have experienced this first hand.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:28 pm

A LOT of people agree with you, Steve!

Herbert-Jan van Dinther September 1, 2011 at 8:30 pm

What? Google only has 65.5% percent market share in the US?

Here in The Netherlands they are up to 98%… Plans are in the making for legisation that sites that use cookies to track your search and browsing behavior need to get approval first in a way that you can opt-out for tracking. You would still get the advertisments, but no longer based on your Internet activity. So less of 1984 in the future for Google.

But Google will still make money and hopefully we can get a slice from that! Doesn’t have to be much.. 0.05% of their profits would be fine by me ;-)

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:31 pm

0.05% percent works for me too!!

Steven September 1, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Google … as with all search engines are empty vessels until we the people provide them with content ..whether we (their customer) have a good search experience or a bad experience is dependent on the quality of the content they decide to index… in their control.

Almost all the personal data they collect was from some form… how many of the blanks we decide to fill in determines the depth of their knowledge about our lives… that is in our control.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:36 pm

True Steven, We The People built their index too, didn’t we?

Dennis Thonstad September 1, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Hey PotPieGirl,

Thanks for the informative article. I took this article for what it was, informative. It does seem rather scary just how much information we so readily give away while surfing the web. So many people fail to even consider the extent or depth of information they give. I thought your article was thought provoking. I really liked the original google lego box! Now that was cool… Makes me want to build a computer box out of legos.

Tonsil Stones Guy September 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Google needs to be regulated and/or broken up and someday that will happen. Until then, start using Bing/Yahoo. If you build websites, stop using Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. Taking away G’s traffic and sources of info is the one thing that might change their behavior.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 8:59 pm

That’s an option, but I’d bet all free services collect data, don’t you think?

Tonsil Stones Guy September 1, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Probably, but it’s what these services do with the data that separates the wheat from the chaff. All we can do is vote on what we want by changing our behavior. And it’s not just about collecting data, it’s also about serving unbiased search results. I understand there’s a Congressional inquiry going on now about Google showing favoritism in their SERPs. Just look at how many YouTube videos show up on the first page of the Google SERPs. Ever since Google bought YouTube in 2006, there’s been a steady influx of YouTube vids onto Page 1 of the Google SERPs. There’s something rotten in Denmark – I mean Mountain View, California.

Val September 1, 2011 at 8:49 pm

“I’m Feeling Lucky” – Jennifer have you read the book yet?

Val

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 9:00 pm

No Val, I haven’t…but I’m Googlin’ it now!!!

Val September 1, 2011 at 10:08 pm

omg girl – if you want to get into the heads of the masterminds behind the company, which sounds like you would, then this book is a must read! I can’t put it done. It’s written by a former employer who was a journalist prior to working at Google.

Did you know, the owners were so cheap, that the cage they rented for their servers consisted of so many servers, one stacked on another, no casings, so they could save on rental space and since parts were so cheap it was easier to replace servers apparently than buy really expensive ones that worked.

It’s a great read…if you one to see the blog behind the book just Google Xoogle lol;) seriously.

Val September 1, 2011 at 10:08 pm

sorry bout the typos…

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Great recommend, Val. I just ordered it and can’t wait to start reading!!

Richard September 1, 2011 at 8:53 pm

We seem to have made a Faustian bargain with Google, don’t we? We allow them to know everything about us – and remember all those personal details for as long as they want – in exchange for endless, free information. Having the whole world at one’s fingertips is truly a remarkable thing, and was unimaginable when I was a teenager playing with his first, primitive home computer. Come to think of it, that was around 1984….

The six-million dollar question is whether this colossal invasion of privacy (is it only an invasion when non-consensual?) constitutes “doing harm” – not just in Google’s conception of those terms, but in society’s. If we weren’t too busy fighting amongst ourselves over who should pay an extra percentage point on his marginal tax rate, or should be allowed to marry whom, we might actually be able to have a national conversation about this. The potential for an unholy alliance between the profit-maker and the ostensible regulator, especially in an age of unprecedented state secrecy and corporate political power, should frighten us all.

If you want to search for something privately, use Scroogle (which accesses Google via a back door and doesn’t keep your search history for more than 24 hours, IIRC) or a proxy-server. Expect the proxy-server business to expand or – if you’re as cynical as I am – be squashed by legislation sold to a gullible public as necessary in the “war on terror.” (It is a Democrat, no less, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who has proposed a bill requiring all ISPs to retain records of our activity for at least a year, allegedly to combat kiddie porn. There’s always a rationale.) Alternatively, when the big cable companies win the battle against net neutrality (do you really want to bet against them?) look for access to proxy-servers to be controlled by them, perhaps according to pricing tier.

We have been privileged to both witness and participate in one of the most important technical revolutions in human history, one which empowered individuals in an extraordinary way. As if in a coming-of-age movie, the internet is now losing its innocence, and no amount of smiling emoticons can mask the ugly potentials welling up inside this twenty-year old creature. But this is no movie, and far less entertaining than watching Anakin Skywalker go over to the Dark Side.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Wow, Richard – great comment!!!! You should write a follow up blog post on your blog and share more of your thoughts!!!

Richard September 1, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Actually, I made a blog last year – on Blogger, of course, to address some of these issues:

Google Cookies Taste Yucky

(Who said you can’t have fun with anchor text?)

Mary September 3, 2011 at 3:07 am

Richard i love your comments and i totally agree!!!!

Ann Gray September 1, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Thanks, This is awesome information and for you to assemble it for us is fantastic. You are the best!

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Thanks, Ann!

Eunice K. Riemer September 1, 2011 at 9:02 pm

This is very old news. Anyone who does more than grub after pennies on the internet would have been aware of all this years ago. Try reading something other than ClickBank.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Wow, ok.

Internet Marketing Tools September 1, 2011 at 9:06 pm

:) keep smiling… and writing. :)

Debi J September 2, 2011 at 3:57 am

You took the words right out of my mouth Jennifer!

Richard September 1, 2011 at 9:26 pm

@Eunice – Jen has been writing about these issues for longer than you’ve been living in your parents’ basement.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Richard…play nice ;)

Internet Marketing Tools September 1, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Love the way you bring such clarity ( and humor) to a situation! And confirmation, encouragement and enlightenment all in the same post. :) thanks as always for a great read.

PotPieGirl September 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Thank you! Just wanted to share things I am reading and thinking about =)

mouhib September 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm

again for you good for jab becaus wow ds for you

Sneaky September 1, 2011 at 10:34 pm

That is definitely food for thought, Jen…thanks for bringing it to my attention while I was busily grubbing for pennies on the Internet; sorry if we pennygrubbers put a twist in someone’s grannypanties :-)~

Anne September 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Do you know, when I go for my walk every day I make a point of picking up every penny or other coin that I find. It’s very entertaining way to make money – and improves your health!! LOL

Question: Does any of this Google stuff remind anyone except me of an old garage and a young man named Gates?

Debi J September 2, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Anne, I’m with you on that one. And while a lot of folks don’t like him and the software still has glitches, I don’t recall any major evil planning of world domination being mentioned yet (but don’t think for one second that we’re not keeping an eye out!). :)

Grant September 1, 2011 at 11:52 pm

A comment about College.

The late Jud McDougall, founder and chairman of the board for Argus Corporation ( A Canadian Company) once said: “I left school when I was fourteen, and I have have regretted it even since. I should have left when I was twelve”!

Now for all of you out there who went to College, whether you graduated or not; is there anything you learned there that you are now applying to working, or researching on the internet. I doubt it.

College is for people who do not know any better. said souls are looking for “THE” career; JOB. Just Over Broke. This internet stuff, and I am just beginning at aged 64, has much more potential.
how do I know. Well simple really. I just look at the number or young people working for minimum
wage at fast food courts. Okay if they like it. but going to college to learn to flip burgers seems quite the waste of time to me.

Carlos September 2, 2011 at 2:28 am

Grant,

You seem to resent people who have taken the time and effort to earn a college degree. This is only because you apparently believe that the really “smart” people don’t need to go to college because they are already smart enough.

Getting an education is not equivalent to getting a high paying job. Education is an end in itself. It just so happens the highest paying professions require a college degree and more.

I am a social scientist, and yes I have a professional career, and yes, I have an advanced degree. Over the years, I’ve discovered there are really only two kinds of people.

1) Those who are ignorant.
2) Those who are ignorant of the fact they are ignorant.

I wonder which one of these two you are.

Buck Johnson September 2, 2011 at 4:06 am

Wow Carlos,

If as a graduate degree holder you can only come up with two categories into which to pour the entire human population, I wonder about which bucket YOU belong in? I can at least think of one other option and category: people who think they know how and have the right to put people in boxes.
My two Masters degrees and Doctorate were as useless as a website without back inks until I learned how to make them work for me. Education is just one of many tools available to people to help them make it through life. There are many others that work just as well

Charley Chris September 2, 2011 at 6:40 am

@Buck/dollar
Education is the most important thing you can ever get in life, even if you don’t get a decent job at last. But who knows, an opportunity may show up just when you thought everything was over. Just thought I should add something.

Tony September 2, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I’ll warrant that the guy who goes through life just flipping burgers to feed hungry people……will make more money than Carlos with his baseless comments. You can have all the degrees going…but You HAVE to eat….

Carlos September 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm

If you are not ignorant, then you know everything. Not a single person knows everything. Every one of us is ignorant of one thing or another. One of the goals of education is to awaken a person to see their own ignorance.

There is a certain hubris that accompanies a person who is ignorant of the fact they are ignorant. This kind of person tends to be what is commonly known as a know-it-all.

And by the way, just because you have a laundry list of degrees, it doesn’t mean you are a genius. It just means you are probably very smart. There’s always exceptions to any rule. Right Buck?

nette September 1, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Yeah, this is all great info and thanks.

But seriously, I’m more taken by the new look of your website and YOUR new look. I love it — awesome!

Removing Skin Tags Yourself September 2, 2011 at 2:15 am

Jennifer,

This is a fantastic post, probably your best ever.

Google is brilliant because they saw their business product not only as people, but as large groups of people. This way, they can zero in on their targets like a laser beam in exponential numbers.

One might think from your post however, that Google is well on its way to complete world domination, and it would seem so. Except for one thing: Government.

Google is able to continue unhindered only because the U.S. Government has allowed them to do so. As you said in the post, the FTC simply dropped the investigation regarding the drive-by data collection project. Right now, our executive branch only enforces laws it agrees with, and ignores enforcement of the laws it does not like. There are examples here and here.

It doesn’t take much to figure out who purchased access to influence and power and who didn’t.

But the winds of change are blowing. People are fed up. They want less big brother, not more, and it is extremely galling to many when they discover that big brother is a for-profit global corporation. The elections of 2010 were a faint indication of what will be happening in 2012 unless things turn around in a big way, and quickly.

The thing is, I would tend to get angry if I couldn’t put food on the table. And, I’d become even more angry when I realized that the reason I can’t put food on the table is because those who are supposed to represent my best interests are really representing the best interests of organizations like Google, among others, at my expense.

Recently, a Rasmussen poll showed that only 17% of those polled believe the U.S. Government is governing by consent of the people. Some experts argue that the U.S. is in a pre-revolutionary stage.

So, I would say: “Not so fast Google!” The people are getting ready to change the game. If that happens, and it will, Google is likely to be facing a slew of anti-trust enforcement, not to mention criminal charges. Remember, they did it to the phone company decades ago. There is a chance Google will be split up to such an extent that it will hold no more sway than Ask.com.

June Parker September 2, 2011 at 3:57 am

I was already aware of this which is why I have done little things to not rely so completely on Google. Doubt it does any good, but it makes me feel better that I haven’t turned everything over to them blindly.

1. Quit using analytics.
2. Uninstalled toolbar
3. Boycotted buzz (really nasty privacy robbing program)
4. Yea, still use gmail, but only for junk. I pay for my personal email account.
5. Placed certain software on all of my sites to make it a little more difficult for anyone with a Google toolbar from entering my sites illegally, (oh, yes they can).
6. And a few more….

As long as we use the Internet for our income, we are trapped by Google’s powerful long and probing spider arms. It is a very scary thought (to me anyway) that any organization should have so much power. I do think that is the reason China keeps blocking their involvement with Google.

Tonsil Stones Guy September 2, 2011 at 9:28 pm

June, your toolbar comment caught my eye. Any more info on that? I’d be interested in learning about it.

Charley|ralph lauren shoes for kids September 2, 2011 at 4:02 am

I really don’t like to hear any news about the big G anymore. Anything new I hear about them makes me unable to think clearly. I clicked through to read this post because I couldn’t miss any post from you.

Anyway, this sounds interesting. We are the products. I feel very important now :)

Sue McDonald September 2, 2011 at 6:52 am

Hi

I agree it really doesn’t matter whether you finished College or not – it is how you lead your life that counts.

Google – they are a law to themselves. I have a friend that keeps asking me who owns Google? Why can they change the rules? I really don’t know but they do. Now they want all of us to like them with the +1 button – guess they were missing out on the love of the people.

Great article

To YOUR success

Sue

Dennis Pippin September 2, 2011 at 6:54 am

Hi Jennifer,

You have a new look since the last time I visited. Great Look!

I never looked at you/me/us being Google’s product but after reading your post I now see that’s what we are to them. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing but you sure have me thinking. They are a giant and it’s kind of scary that we all construct sites, write articles and blog posts or anything we do online to satisfy Google. I understand it is what it is but is scary that they have that much control/power over us.

Dennis

Debi J September 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Dennis,

As an ex-computer programmer, I know that it’s been possible for years (if they ever wanted to do it), for Microsoft and Bill Gates’ group to program background programs to know what anyone who uses a computer is up to.

Most people don’t stop to think that if they’re on a computer, even if they’re only using their email software, there’s code in the background that can be sending any info it wants to anywhere Microsoft wants it sent (maybe the Apple users are forward thinkers?) :)

Only difference is that Google’s gathering data where we can watch them do it and they’re openly stating that that’s what they’re doing.

Debi J

And for the college guy who believes college is the only answer…that’s true IF you are passionate about a career that requires that you know a whole lot more than you can learn on the streets. I could have learned computer programming on my own but I paid over $50,000 to get the knowledge faster….worked as a programmer for 7 years and haven’t used the damn degree since 1999 so it’s now a worthless piece of paper towards future endeavors. Since leaving corporate America (and my degree) behind, I started earning more in a month (and even on some DAYS) that what I ever earned in an entire YEAR with my degree…and learned a LOT from self-made millionaires I now call friends who had 10th grade educations and GEDs. So while a degree (and education) itself will certainly teach you a lot you might otherwise never know about, I don’t believe it’s the be-all, end-all that previous generations were taught. And it’s CERTAINLY not worth being rude enough about to imply that those who DON’T believe it’s the way to go are ignorant!

I encourage my son to take courses to learn quickly what he’s passionate about. If it leads to a degree for him…cool. If not, he certainly knows the value of owning his own business, even if it’s a Social Scientist business.

Just my 2 cents…

Debi J

Carlos September 3, 2011 at 1:11 am

Debi J,

I’m glad you are following my post about ignorance. It’s probably true that your degree is largely useless. You learned some skills that apparently have no use to you at the present moment. These skills do not constitute an education.

Real education brings the mind into conformity with that which is true, good, and beautiful. Technical training has to do with learning a skill that has value in the marketplace. Maybe you should ask for your tuition money back?

Why?

You don’t know how to read. I never wrote that “college is the only answer” or, “those who don’t believe it’s the way to go are ignorant.” Creating statements that I never made in order somehow prove that I am rude is a Straw Man Argument and a logical fallacy. It is the sign of a lazy mind. So be it.

As I already pointed out earlier. The problem today is not that people can’t tell sh*t from clay, but that they look at the sh*t, call it an ice cream sundae, and eat it with a grin.

Debi J September 3, 2011 at 5:51 am

Carlos,

I got several things from your reply. First, you are easily offended as shown in your original comment as well as your response to mine. No where in Grants observation regarding education imply that he was resentful of those of us who have one. Second, you missed the point of my post (or possibly in your education years thus far you have yet to run across the word “imply”, who knows).

As for education, I can now see from your response that it’s more than likely the fact that we disagree on the definition of the word that’s causing the misunderstanding. In my (albeit ignorant) world, “brings the mind into conformity with that which is true, good, and beautiful.” is what one gains through personal development/enlightment/spiritual enrichment/etc….NOT thru “education”. (And yes, I’ve spent many years in THAT department too….and would not ask for a refund for that either).

The fact that “the highest paying professions require a college degree and more” doesn’t change the fact that it still provides a career (a J.O.B.) where, unless you move outside of one of those boxes you so eloquently put everyone into, you will always be working for someone else and have limits placed on that high pay, as proven by my reference to the fact that many self-made millionaires have a 10th grade education and a GED (or did your lazy mind neglect to read that part?).

However, given the obvious laziness of MY mind (not to mention the fact that it’s rude to have hijacked Jennifer’s post over education to begin with, given that that was NOT the point of her wonderful post), I will end my conversation with you here.

I do however, wonder exactly what a Social Scientist does. Since you obviously possess no part of the “social” side, I can only assume that you earn your living through the scientist side. And truly there’s no need for you to answer here because “Frankly my dear Carlos, I don’t give a damn!”

My apologies to you Jennifer. I got a LOT of information from your post and will always be back to read more.

Debi J

P.S. To my fellow HB TD (yes, you know who you are)….I couldn’t help it…it was just one of “those”! :)

carlos September 4, 2011 at 3:35 am

My eyes are starting to burn.

James Hussey September 7, 2011 at 5:49 am

This was the most entertaining exchange I’ve read in quite some time. Same time next week? I think Debi won it, just for the record. BUT I can put some pop corn on and we can go round 3 (4?).

OK, no, really – that was a good read. Enjoyed it.

James Hussey September 7, 2011 at 5:49 am

*popcorn [sic]

Sunshine September 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Hi Jennifer,

These are the types of articles I’ve grown to really enjoy from you my dear.

I saw an interview with Eric Schmidt on Charlie Rose four years ago when he said Google’s main business is advertising. At that time I bout fell outta my chair when he said that because it was a time when everyone online in our community and others kept extolling Google as a search engine when Eric clearly stated they no longer considered themselves as that.

Peggy Baron September 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Hi Jennifer,

“We are the product”. I don’t know whether I’m more creeped out on a personal level or fascinated from a marketer’s view point.

P.S. Love your new look!

Peggy

Duy Nguyen September 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Jennifer, I don’t know if this is appropriate or not but I just want to let you know that I’ve made my first $14.80 from Amazon Associate thanks to one of my Squidoo lens :D And thanks for your knowledge about SEO with Squidoo I’ve learned so far. It contributes hugely! Thank you and best wishes for other people who are working to make your first dollar online. This is real. I did it so you can! I’m so happy now :) It pays off eventually after 10 months of struggling online LOL!

Rick Byrd September 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Jennifer:

I like the idea of getting free Google stock, especially since it is doing so well.

This is some really interesting information. I even missed that Google just purchased Motorola. With all the mobile marketing going on I would expect at some point Congress would step in and make it illegal to do so if the phone is put on a no call/text/advertisment list. So now is definitely the time to take advantage of mobile marketing.

- Rick

Tiffany Dow September 3, 2011 at 12:15 am

Well I don’t want to comment about Google. I want to say this was a kick ass curated blog post girl! Done right ;)

Daniel@SoleE35Reviews.com September 4, 2011 at 1:31 am

Jennifer, I think this is a great post, as usual. In fact, I started thinking along these lines after I started reading about Google’s push to get web writers to use the Authorship markup and webmasters to use HTML5 schema microdata.

Basically, Authorship requires you to link between your Google profile and any content you want associated with your profile. Microdata allows you to tag content to help Google understand more clearly what you are referring to. For instance you use this to tell Google “I’m about to start talking about a movie by the name of Avatar.” Or “I’m talking about the concept that an avatar is a person that represents a diety.”

Basically, Google’s just trying to get MORE data out of people who create online content.

It’d be interesting to see a case study of whether microdata markup can help a site rank higher or not.

Hogward@Family Meal Planner September 5, 2011 at 5:11 am

Very depth research about Google. I like the informative sources at the end of your post. Thanks to recommend the article “You’re Not Google’s Customer — You’re the Product“

Marlene September 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm

One thing you didn’t mention, that I think is sad and bordering on being a traitor. They gave up their American Business Citizenship and moved it to Ireland because they didn’t want to pay US tax dollars. They even have space there, but no real office. By just putting their algorithm in a vault somewhere in Ireland, and changing their licensing or whatever it is from the USA to Ireland. Now they are an Irish company.

James Hussey September 7, 2011 at 5:43 am

I disagree, Marlene – not paying high taxes and keeping more profits is just smart business. The assumption is that taxes are a patriotic duty when the world’s economy is global is archaic.

Personally, if I could totally avoid paying taxes to our irresponsible government, I’d do it in a heartbeat…but unfortunately that’s not happening.

If you want to talk traitorous, talk to the politicians who are running up our country’s national debt without reservation. That’s traitorous.

Mark September 6, 2011 at 5:42 am

Can you help me sell a lens? I don’t know where to go from here, but I noticed you were good at making them.

James Hussey September 7, 2011 at 5:40 am

I find it fascinating as well, but it’s also not something to applaud – it’s never been good when a government or a corporation got to this mammoth size. The control issues and the amount of information that Google has access to is daunting, I think the NSA and CIA have less access to information than Google…

As a search marketer/affiliate, I love their traffic…

But even then, there are plenty of times when their traffic monopoly bites where it hurts: in the pocket book…while scraper sites out-rank the sites they scrape? This happened to me not that long ago, and there’s nothing to be done about it.

I long for the day that Bing, Yahoo! or some other search engine takes massive market share from Google because this just isn’t good for the consumer. We can be pacified with “free mobile phones” but are they really free? Aren’t we just giving them more free research?

When does it stop? Where does it lead?

It’s not good. People who say otherwise are blind to history and unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done about it (and yes, I know it sounds like I’m paranoid, I guess I should never have read Orwell or world history).

Steve S September 7, 2011 at 6:23 am

I would like to see Yahoo or Bing grab more of the search share. Google bites and they need to be broken down but God help us all if the government does it.

I remember when I was a kid Bell Telephone got busted up. People were freaking because they thought the phones would stop working. They didn’t and in the end competition lowered rates and brought better service.

There was an old line on Laugh In A 60′S TV show that went “We’re the phone company, we dont care, we dont have to” I think this is where we are with Google and while they need us for content and to sell crap to we really dont need them.

But like all power mongers they keep you beholden. People cant live without food but farmers get treated like dirt. Banks need your money but wont give you a loan. Those in power figure out how to put the thumbscrews to those they really need so they can never gain an upper hand. Absolute power corrupts absolutely!

Kasko Sigortas? September 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Thanks for wonderful informations. I spent lots of money for advertising. I prefer google . It’s always advanced to come first when searching your keywords. Thanks againg for the very useful article.

cybrgrl September 8, 2011 at 3:33 am

Jennifer, I want to say thanks for this insightful post, a few things came to mind as I was reading it. I have always wondered why in general people seem to think that “online” is any different than “offline” basically the virtual world vs the real world.

A business is about making money and the fastest way to make money is to sell a product that people want to buy and to learn from Potpie girl herself that we are “the product” then that tells us we are being “sold” to the highest bidder.

In the real world you would not just give out your personal home address and phone number to a stranger if they walked up to you and said I have a free gift to give you but first I need you to write down all your contact information on this piece of paper first, then I will give it to you. We would look at them like they were crazy and say no way buster.

But everyday people sign up for free offers and gladly handover their credit card numbers, home address, phone number and zip code without a blink of an eye. Not knowing who is behind the capture page. Then they cry holy murder when they get ripped off!

In the real world if a grocery store owner notices that a certain brand of cereal is selling faster than another brand they will move that cereal to the front of the store so that more customers can see it to buy it or if a television commercial advertises a certain type of paper towels at noon the same time each day, it would have to mean they are targeting housewives specifically…….

So why would anyone think that the internet is any different, it makes sense to me that anyone who comes online is going to be marketed to and in order to do that, the search engines will need to gather information and study search patterns, such as where people go when they log on each day and how long they spend on specific sites during the week, etc.

To me the scary place is not Google because they have no hidden agendas, pretty much they are an open book. For instance if you want to rank in the search engines, just write about things that matter the most to Google and their advertisers. ( a clue is to just watch commercials all day long or flip through a magazine and then you will know what to write about). It doesn’t take all these keyword tools and special e-courses to know what people are interested in buying.

We only have to look as far as our own household, what we buy every month to survive, so does everyone else. What ever companies we use to transact our business, so does everyone else. What ever stage of life we are in and consider important than so do most other people in our age group, demographic or economic status.

Oh I almost forgot, what scares me about the internet is not Google, if anyone wants to know who they should be scared of it would be: FACEBOOK!

To me that is some scary stuff, Google gathers information, while Facebook gathers memories.

Steve September 13, 2011 at 5:28 am

Tee Hee… Can you say “Soylent Google?”

Needless to say, I’m sorry but the self evident facts here are all things which I applaud Google for. I’d rather just get ads throughout my daily life and have everything be a LOT cheaper to me than to have to always pay with my bleeding heart to afford the things I’m addicted to, like easy-to-make food and television. The other stuff sounds more like misinformation twisted into scare tactics by people who aren’t really researching their facts, like the people who made Zeitgeist The Movie.” All of that work pointing fingers so hard at what was obviously suspicious and problematic, that they lost track of reality and got nowhere. I speak as someone who just hears these claims and the thought of paranoia comes to mind. I don’t have time to research them myself, they just seem to have that air about them.

As for privacy though, I think the age of privacy is extinct. No one is ever going to be completely safe from prying eyes. Peeping Toms don’t even need to leave their homes any more.

Heather September 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm

I stumbled upon you on Google. Google is fun. I just wish I had gone with my gut instinct and invested in it “back in the day”. Keep up the good work.

Gary September 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Keep up the insight Jennifer. You can’t win if you don’t first understand.

Ileana Maxson September 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I just finished reading a few books that support all you say. “The Filter Bubble” is a must read for anyone concerned about the loss of privacy and the lengths that companies such as Google go to get data from us. Any thoughts about what we can do to keep our wi-fi at home safe?

crf6adv September 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

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Columbia Business Group September 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Interesting infographic (is that a real word?)… really shows how quickly Google has grown and how huge it has gotten to be. Thanks!

Thomas September 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Thanks, Pot Pie Girl. I like the way you think. The Filter Bubble… Nice!

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