(Update at end of post as of 1:00pm PST today – ed.)
So… I have spent the last day and a half carefully migrating from my pseudonym accounts with Google, also in pulling my information from Google’s various services in preparation for leaving and deleting my primary real-name account and all related services as well.
For those interested, this involved the following:
(1) Creating my own email server at my domain host.
(2) Creating the pseudonym and alias accounts to migrate to within my new email server.
(3) Compiling the list of online sites and services in need of update across banks, job sites, forums, gaming sites, retail outlets, etc. (double plus extensive!!)
(4) Slogging through the process of updating each of them and confirming the change via these google accounts, then validating they are working as expected with the new address(es).
(5) Deleting the old pseudonym accounts entirely.
(6) Removing all my profile content here and setting all fields POSSIBLE (!! some are not !!) to “you only” for sharing.
(7) Removing my profile from the index service.
At this moment, my primary is the ONLY account I have left with Google and I am holding only to the point that it becomes obvious (to my own, personal standard of confirmation; which says it all to those who know me) that this is NOT changing…. at which point, I will delete it as well.
Google may not care, many in the world may not care… but damn it, I care and I will not return even if Google winds up “the next Microsoft” (which, frankly, it looks like they’re heading toward with all possible speed). Maybe I am just that much an idealist, but I believe in the right of the individual to CHOOSE their level of immersion and to retain ALL RIGHTS in relation to their data, particularly their personally identifying data.
If Google insists on refusing to support this across the spectrum, then, quite simply, they are no longer a company I care to support in any way, in any form, in any shape, at all.
As of this post, that google account and the email address associated with it are effectively in limbo. If you want to reach me, you may do so by writing to me here by either:
(a) using my first name at my full name dot com
(b) using the contact form (points up).
I cannot begin to convey how utterly disappointed and let down I am by Google’s choices in relation to sustaining our choice and in particular, our preferred identifies. If this is the brave new world, frankly, I want no part of it.
Yes, this is my taking a stand on principle. My pseudonym accounts were never touched or threatened as they used real looking names. But the point is the point and it seems very obvious that Google’s new modus operandi is anti-privacy, anti-choice, and this, frankly, makes me anti-Google.
I never thought I’d see the day when a company who has largely been the bastion of privacy and choice so dramatically and arrogantly turned on those who supported, promoted, and invested in them. To say I am saddened would be a profound understatement.
Shortly after the above, I was pointed to an article in which the long-winded Robert Scoble proceeded to outline a conversation with Vic Gundotra in July that was, frankly, JUST the thing I needed to see, my own little “straw”. My response, in the comments (following the re-post of Scoble’s commentary, quoted here for posterity) as I have now decided to leave this account “alive” but very much in a vegetative state (I will not be checking it WHATEVER, any email sent to it is filtered directly to the trash and an auto-responder replies stating both that I no longer use Google and that the account is dead).
As posted by Mr. Scoble on July 25, 2011:
(And no, thank you, I will not be linking to him; in my personal opinion he’s a coat-tail-riding, name-dropping, smugly narrow-minded yes-man who thinks no further than his own interests when considering pretty much anything under the sun. Don’t get me wrong, I’m cool with him having a different opinion, what I’m not cool with is using that soapbox to dismiss anyone who thinks differently. As someone supposedly interested in journalism, you’d think he’d have a better grip on the notion of “balanced reporting”… oh well.)
I talked with Google VP +Vic Gundotra tonight (disclaimer, he used to be my boss at Microsoft). He is reading everything we have written about names, and such. Both pro and con.
He says he is making some tough choices and that he will be judged over time how those choices turn out.
He says that he is trying to make sure a positive tone gets set here. Like when a restaurant doesn’t allow people who aren’t wearing shirts to enter.
He says it isn’t about real names. He says he isn’t using his legal name here. He says, instead, it is about having common names and removing people who spell their names in weird ways, like using upside-down characters, or who are using obviously fake names, like “god” or worse.
He says they have made some mistakes while doing the first pass at this and they are learning. He also says the team will change how they communicate with people. IE, let them know what they are doing wrong, etc.
I pushed him to make more of the changes, like give us a good appeals process, etc.
He also says they are working on ways to handle pseudonyms, but that will be a while before the team can turn on those features (everyone is working hard on a raft of different things and can’t just react overnight to community needs).
After running through his reasoning, mostly to have a nicer, more personal, community, I feel even stronger that Google is on the right track here even though I feel they weren’t fair or smart in how they spun up these new rules, but Vic convinced me to hang in there and watch their decisions over the next few weeks.
I am on board and it will be interesting to watch Vic and his team. Me? I am having a ton of fun here and that is most of what counts.
My response? Pretty simple, really:
If they can’t react overnight to our needs, they might wish to consider not yanking the rug out from under us until they can meet our needs.
I realize this may be difficult for a major corporation’s executive to understand (blink), but all this is still boiling down to “this is our way, like it or leave it” and, frankly, that they either (a) didn’t think about the wisdom of such a position, (b) didn’t consider the reality of the full effect, or (c) didn’t keep to their “don’t be evil” rule and err on the side of CHOICE rather than LACK OF IT says more than they seem to realize… and none of it is appealing, builds confidence, or sustains trust.
Mind you… in the scant month I have been on G+, this has utterly eaten away the YEARS of enthusiasm and support Google EARNED from me. Am I being fickle? I think not — what else should one conclude in the face of such a dramatic about face but that “how we are” has become “how we were” and (as has been so very delightfully made clear), “if you don’t like it, leave.”
I think that last one is the one that stings and rankles the most… gee, Google, you may as well just put a nice, neon, strobing bit of java script on your homepage that reads, “Submit or Scram”.
But… prudentia doctus, I suppose… my mistake, my bad, mea maxima culpa, indeed.
You know the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
Good job, Google. Not that it matters, obviously, but hey, congratulations, you got me.
Well… you had me.