Google Bloggers Speak As One - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Applications
Commentary
2/9/2009
08:08 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
Commentary
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Bloggers Speak As One

Google maintains dozens of blogs, on which various Google engineers and product managers post pithy, informative tidbits about the company's new software, services, and activities. It turns out they're more a tool for corporate communications than a form of personal expression. Not that anyone should be surprised by this.

Google maintains dozens of blogs, on which various Google engineers and product managers post pithy, informative tidbits about the company's new software, services, and activities. It turns out they're more a tool for corporate communications than a form of personal expression. Not that anyone should be surprised by this.Consider this sentence from a blog post attributed to Bryan Mawhinney, a software engineer for Google Mobile: "For iPhone and Windows Mobile devices, Google Sync allows you to get your Gmail contacts and Google Calendar events onto your phone."

And compare it with this sentence, from a blog post attributed to Marcus Foster, a product manager for Google Mobile: "For iPhone and Windows Mobile devices, Google Sync allows you to get your Gmail Contacts and Google Calendar events to your phone."

See the difference? Neither do I, because they're almost identical. And the posts both talk about Google's "credo to launch early and iterate," a strategy the company employs successfully and mentions frequently.

That's not supposed to happen, Karen Wickre, a senior manager in corporate communications at Google, told me during a phone conversation. Google blog posts, she said, are often collaborations between Google product team members, so some information may be shared. But she said that multiple posts about the same product are usually targeted at specific audiences, like advertisers, enterprise customers, developers, or consumers.

Someone, it seems, was in a hurry and someone else missed the duplication. Not really a big deal.

Now I'm not naive enough to imagine that Google simply lets its employees blog without oversight. (The last time that happened (that I'm aware of) was in 2007, when Google Health account planner Lauren Turner was forced to apologize for a blog post condemning Michael Moore's film Sicko.)

But it would be nice to be able to accept the idea of individual authorship at face value. The conceit of an identifiable author, or several, is what separates a blog from a press release or other form of official memo.

Individual authorship offers the possibility, however remote, of authenticity or, better still, something inflammatory or unexpected. And having a name to tie to a quote helps journalists feel like they're reporting, rather than being spoon-fed with vetted talking points.

But of course blogs and corporate communications can be one and the same, just as e-mailed comments from sources, particularly those funneled through corporate communications people, may be more group think than personal musing.

Really, what this minor slip-up tells me is that the term "blog" has become meaningless. Or is it that the notion of individual authorship isn't nearly as relevant in this Wikipedian world of collaboration?

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. Bylines are bygones. Mistakes were made.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
News
IT Spending Forecast: Unfortunately, It's Going to Hurt
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  5/15/2020
Commentary
Helping Developers and Enterprises Answer the Skills Dilemma
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  5/19/2020
Slideshows
Top 10 Programming Languages in Demand Right Now
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  4/28/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Key to Cloud Success: The Right Management
This IT Trend highlights some of the steps IT teams can take to keep their cloud environments running in a safe, efficient manner.
Slideshows
Flash Poll