Google+ is gone

It shut down April 2nd. I got word of this last fall. Google originally said they were going to keep it up for another year, but then chopped that timeline in half.

I’ve gotten used to the fact that many Google services are temporary. I had been on Google+ since 2012, it seems. Its best feature was its groups. It wasn’t as nice a platform as Facebook, and the groups I was interested in were not very active, but I had some of my best conversations on there. The experience was really great if I turned off G+’s ability to suggest other posts outside of my interests. There was quite a bit of “trash” on there that I just assumed ignore, and a nice thing about G+ is it allowed me to do that.

I’ve preserved most of my G+ posts on Mark’s favorites, a WordPress blog I set up out of frustration with Facebook many years ago. I’ve been using it as a “dumping ground” for stuff that’s had some interest for me, but I don’t think groups and people I’ve met on other social media platforms would care about.

I expect I’ll be posting most new stuff on here, and occasionally posting small items of interest on “Mark’s favorites”.

In case you noticed some posts missing…

I discovered this week that a bunch of videos I had embedded in past posts had “broken.” They were all from Google Video. Some of them were ones I had posted to it.

Many times the videos I embed in my posts are crucial to their meaning, so I was wondering what I was going to do with the posts that used them. I wanted to be able to work on them without my incomplete edits going “public,” so I took down the following posts for a few days:

The death of certainty and the birth of computer science

I’m not a scientist, but I play one on TV…

The computer as medium

“Reminiscing” series, parts 1, 2, 3, and 4

Saying goodbye to someone I never knew

Redefining computing, Part 2

Exploring Squeak and Seaside

I have revamped them, getting rid of videos that have disappeared, and dead links. I found many of the same videos I had used before, posted somewhere else. I also revised some of the text. I’ve re-posted the above articles.

I frequent YouTube, and I remember seeing an invitation on there a while back to merge my Google videos into my YouTube account. YouTube didn’t mention a thing about Google Video going away. From what I remember, I didn’t take their offer, because I had assumed YouTube limited the length of most videos to 10 minutes. The whole reason I had posted videos to Google’s service was they didn’t have a length limit.

Doing some research on this, I discovered that Google had totally shut down its video service this past May, and had been disallowing anyone from posting new videos to it since a few years ago. There is still a “Google Video” service now, but it functions like a normal Google search. It just isolates its results to other video sites, like its blog search.

As I was working on my posts, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the videos I had posted to Google’s service had in fact been merged into my YouTube account, as private videos, and none of them had been truncated. I don’t recall being notified of this. Even so, I was thankful to see they were still around. One less thing I had to think about.

There is still a video would’ve liked to have “recovered” in all this, but I can’t find it anywhere. It’s Alan Kay’s presentation to a group of teachers called “What is Squeak?”

Google removes censorship on google.cn, may be forced to leave China

My first instinct to hearing this news (h/t to Bill Kerr) was, “About friggin time!” Here’s a permalink to Bill’s post on it.

Google discovered recently that some of its servers, as well as the servers at 34 other companies were attacked in a sophisticated cracking campaign originating in China. As far as Google’s services were concerned, the attacks seemed to be targeted at trying to access the e-mails of Chinese human rights activists, and Google’s intellectual property. The attack on the former failed, but the attack on the latter apparently succeeded. Google announced after this discovery that it is removing censorship measures on google.cn, their Chinese search service, and they acknowledged that they are facing the prospect of being forced to leave China altogether. Wow! Now, I understand that this was discussed as a business decision, probably from a security standpoint, but I think that this burnishes Google’s image, nevertheless, of “not being evil”. China’s government and business environment are not compatible with Google’s corporate culture. This isn’t the first time that Google has gotten harassed, apparently. The conflicts with the Chinese government have gone on a long time, partly, Google suspects, at the behest of its competitors.

Here’s a link to video of a news segment on this on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

Ethan Zuckerman made a good point that Google was blamed for moving into China and agreeing to their censorship guidelines, but they’ve been less stringent on internet communications, and have been more willing to do things the Chinese government doesn’t like, than Google’s competitors, such as Microsoft and Yahoo. The reason they got beat up on more than the others is that Google began with the motto “don’t be evil”. None of their competitors had such a mission statement.

I was originally opposed to Google entering China a few years ago for these reasons. However, apparently Google offered enough openings for human rights activists in China so they could use Google’s services to organize and exert some power in Chinese politics. I hadn’t heard of this until now. It turns out they offered private GMail accounts to Chinese users, based in a U.S. server, and this was one avenue that activists have been using.

Now, these same Chinese activists are worried that Google may be forced to leave, thereby removing a powerful tool they had in advancing their causes. I do feel for these people.

I feel in a strange way after hearing this news that if it took Google continuing the censorship to stay so that Chinese activists would have something that they could continue to use for their causes, then I’d say “bring on the censorship!” It’s better than nothing, and I’m now realizing that this was probably Google’s calculation all along. But I think the jig is up. Probably not even that would repair this situation. As I read about this it felt like the situation with NBC, Conan O’Brien, and the Tonight Show. Basically, “I have to leave, because these bozos want me to do something that will betray my sense of integrity.”

Edit 5-22-2010: I was informed yesterday by Tammy Bruce that despite what some might have heard, Google has not left China. Instead they have relocated to Hong Kong, and have managed to set up what I’d call a “beach head” where they are not censoring their searches. This does not mean that most Chinese have unfettered access to information. From what I hear the Chinese are blocking Google, though my guess is this is not total, or else they would have no choice but to leave entirely.