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Google's Philosophical Ten True Things Not So True Anymore?

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Google Horoscopes? is an older item from last month at News.com I've been meaning to mention. It notes how a Slashdotter spotted that the Google Our Philosophy page was apparently quietly changed recently to remove the "Google does not do horoscopes, financial advice or chat" line. Google, of course, now does chat via Google Talk. A footnote at the bottom of the page reflects on the change:

Full-disclosure update: When we first wrote these "10 things" four years ago, we included the phrase "Google does not do horoscopes, financial advice or chat." Over time we've expanded our view of the range of services we can offer ?- web search, for instance, isn't the only way for people to access or use information -? and products that then seemed unlikely are now key aspects of our portfolio. This doesn't mean we've changed our core mission; just that the farther we travel toward achieving it, the more those blurry objects on the horizon come into sharper focus (to be replaced, of course, by more blurry objects).

I don't know how "blurry" chat could have been four years ago, considering what Google rolled out is essentially the same as chat was back then, except for the voice side of things.

The reality is that Google's mission of "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible" is so broad that the company can argue anything is a part of it and is doing so as it expands to compete with the portals.

I don't agree that all these moves are related to organizing information, as I've written. And I doubt the full-disclosure update over "blurry" things coming into sharper focus will convince some others, either.

At the very least, the entire second point of the "Ten things Google has found to be true" items on that Our Philosophy page should go. That's:

It's best to do one thing really, really well.

That thing is supposedly "Google does search," but Blogger is search? Google Talk is search? AdSense is search? Selling print ads is search? Even if you buy into all of these being search, can so many different products and services be considered "one thing?"

Of course, if that point's going to go, time to take out point four, as well:

Democracy on the web works.

We know that's not the case, because Google's had to introduce things like nofollow, campaign against link/vote selling and acknowledge that some elected to the top search results get there because of pranks, rather than democracy. Democracy on the web, it seems, can be susceptible to many problems.

How about the first point:

Focus on the user and all else will follow.

It goes on to say how Google has grown by word of mouth, "from one satisfied user to another." But apparently not enough in Kansas City, Japan or Korea, places where Google has run consumer-facing ad campaigns.

Overall, that page needs more than a full-disclosure footnote. It probably needs to come down entirely, at least the portion with points about what Google has found to be true. It's not that the horizon is becoming less blurry. It's simply that Google itself is growing up and changing, and so will the things it finds true as part of that process.


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