I read this piece on Forbes’s online site, by Mr. Alex Kantrowitz and nearly fell apart at its dribble. In the piece, Mr. Kantrowitz attempts to argue one point of view and then, completely dismisses that entire point of view with his final paragraph. It’s that kind of apathy that I’d like to make a point about here.
Arguably, Mr. Kantrowitz is trying to drive home the point that technology is not in “our” hands, meaning the general public’s. (A little laughable since the man is writing for Forbes, but I digress.) He attempts to make the case the big corporations are solely responsible for providing technology and they can give and take away at their whim.
It’s this kind of apathy that is choking our entire social structure here in the States. ”Oh, woe is me, a program I used for free, provided by a corporation is being taken away from me and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.” *yawn* I’m so bored with that whole philosophy, bored by the general apathy it permits, tired of the complaining without the desire to change.
“Oh, woe is me, I can’t do anything…”
The thing is, when a company, like Google, takes away a dearly beloved product, like Reader, in an attempt to focus on other “products” and streamline itss corporation, they usually end up regretting the decision. You can’t tell me that more than one person at the corporation responsible for pulling the plug on Reader didn’t think twice about the backlash they and the company were facing all over social media.
The fact that they announced an end date for the service in July and gave notice in March is telling. Usually, you get over a year of service for one product’s demise before it ends. Now? Google is hoping people will forget about this in March and that by August, it will be swept up under the rug. So, I do agree with Mr. Kantrowitz that this is likely not a salvageable situation.
What I don’t agree with him on, is that fact that the general public can’t do anything about, while he uses a non sequitur to go from, “we’re at the mercy of companies and their allowance of technology” to, “well, some company is bound to pick up the torch and build another product just like or better than Google Reader”. The very fact that other companies are doing just that is proof that the market place is still very much consumer driven.
It’s just that, usually, here in America, we sit in neutral.
We are a comfortable society, even if our Congress and Wall Street is attempting to make us less so. We let companies do this to us. We don’t do boycotts, we don’t refuse to do businesses with companies that promote policies that are anathema to our beliefs unless there is a major outcry to do so. Hell, doing the research alone is often too much “work” for people that would rather watch reality television.
I seem unclear as to whether Mr. Kantrowitz is trying to urge a battle call or tell us just to stay huddled up next to our laptops and wait for the next “Google Reader” to be developed by Digg or another company. That’s apathy.
But, one point that I must make very clear is, when corporations or companies give up on the products that consumers like, they do eventually go elsewhere. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but Google has been steadily working against its own interests, from launching physical hardware to investing in social media applications so that it can attempt to be the next Facebook, to refusing to play ball with those already established social media conglomerates, like Twitter and highly popular technology companies like Apple.
In addition to their co-founder equating using a handheld phone to being “emasculated”, Google is doing everything that a once giant corporation does when it fails to focus on the one thing that made it great. Now, the unheard of is happening, as Microsoft’s Bing captures more and more of the marketplace.
Like all masters of the universe, Google, who once held the world in the palm of its hand, has carried on the battle cry of excess, chanting, “more!” without focusing on the home front and when that happens, the home front dies off and its fires burn away.
We are not powerless and our technology is not controlled by big corporations, we just lack the will to exercise our power. In part, that’s the beauty in Mr. Kantrowitz’s article: our philosophy on taking charge and realizing how powerful we can be in all facets of our lives is as muddled as his prose. A perfect microcosm of the macro…
I get the feeling we’re on the same side, but for crying out loud, make an argument that is a battle cry, not a whimper, talk about how people can defeat the “enemy” and begin to be the drivers of the market, rather than the passengers, and don’t use one long winded argument to just give up in the end.
As for Google, our culture is comfortable with the company right now. Gmail is the reigning champ, but so once was Hotmail and Yahoo. That, however, is slowly changing, beginning with Bing. If Google continues to focus on other products that are NOT in demand, trying to gain an audience, Google will fall like Yahoo, and though, I will be saddened, I won’t be surprised.