About 6 months ago, Google announced a slew of consumer-grade products geared squarely at Apple and Amazon. At the event, they presented the Home, the Pixel, and Google WiFi and they all caught my eye for different reasons. I’m intrigued by the concept of mesh networking rather than throwing a router in one corner of […]
By early 2014, less than three years after its big launch, the Google+ team had moved out of its coveted building to a spot on campus further from Page. Gundotra announced his departure from the company that April — in a Google+ post, of course — to pursue “a new journey.”
I always felt like Google+ checked all the boxes of what features a great social network should have with the exception of one: nobody used it. Unfortunately for Google, that’s kind of the most important one.
The thing is, though, even though it’s tempting to think of algorithms as the very definition of objective, they’re not. “It’s not really possible to have a completely neutral algorithm,” says Jonathan Bright, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute who studies elections. “I don’t think there’s anyone in Google or Facebook or anywhere else who’s trying to tweak an election. But it’s something these organizations have always struggled with.” Algorithms reflect the values and worldview of the programmers. That’s what an algorithm is, fundamentally. “Do they want to make a good effort to make sure they influence evenly across Democrats and Republicans? Or do they just let the algorithm take its course?” Bright asks.
Scary to think about the implications – intentional or not – of skewed search result data. Ultimately, people are building these algorithms and even if their intent is truly ‘good’, the possibility of pushing people one way or another is real. On a somewhat related note, there was a good Atlantic article last fall about a similar concern with Facebook.
Marco Arment wrote about Apple losing the ‘functional high ground’ earlier this year, and it was met with tons of discussion – blog posts, podcasts, twitter battles and more. The part that hit me was the final paragraph: I fear that Apple’s leadership doesn’t realize quite how badly and deeply their software flaws have damaged […]
I’ve been searching for a good Google podcast for a long, long time but my search may be over. I’ve give Material’s first 4 episodes a listen and it’s very entertaining. What makes it better than most is their keen understanding that for their chosen platform to be great doesn’t mean the competition needs to be bad. They tackle topics in a very engaging, thoughtful manner and avoid bashing the competition – instead focusing on what makes Android/Google their platform of choice. Doesn’t hurt that 2/3 of the crew are former iOS users, so they have good perspective about both platforms.