Friday, April 23, 2010

Online information sharing? There's not enough of it!

Perhaps this is just a case similar to the one in which people supposedly "misuse" Google to login to Facebook, but perhaps it's truly an opportunity for improvement.

This week, people are falling all over the place and jumping off of buildings and burning their old floppy discs because Facebook apparently now shares your information with every site you visit. This is worrisome, because now the IRS will presumably know that you bought a new car, and they'll wonder where you got the income to do that. And who knows what Osama bin Laden will learn from the music that you scrobble.

We have a mental image of Big Brother - in this case a corporate rather than a governmental Big Brother - working in concert with everyone to plot against us. In truth, however, we are a long way from that. I have often stated that we don't need to worry about the U.S. Federal Government agencies working together to take away our freedoms, because the U.S. Federal Government agencies all hate each other. People from Department X think that people in Department Y are all bozos, and they're not going to share information with those bozos in Department Y because (a) they're all bozos and they'll probably lose the information, and (b) if they don't lose the information, they'll probably claim the credit that should rightfully go to Department X.

The absolute lack of cooperation, even between people in the same department, hits us every day. Let's take Google. They offer a maps service, and they offer a news service. In the ideal world, they'd work together, wouldn't they?

I wanted to know the precise location of this week's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, so I typed "oil spill in Gulf of Mexico" into This is what I got:

This is not what I wanted. Apparently Google Maps doesn't know what Google News is doing.

An aside - eventually, I found an article that gave me the information that I needed.

THE semisubmersible drilling rig Deepwater Horizon sank in the Gulf of Mexico 130 miles southeast of New Orleans yesterday....

So I went back to Google Maps and typed "130 miles southeast of new orleans, louisiana." Google Maps presented me with a map of Miles Drive in New Orleans. I'm sure it's a nice street, but if there's a huge fire and an oil slick in that neighborhood, I'm not moving there.

Back to searching for current news information in Google Maps. It turns out that in some cases it does work. Back when I appeared online as Ontario Emperor, I would occasionally search Google Maps for "ontario emperor" and fill all sorts of things. Well, I author the regional blog Empoprise-IE, so I thought I'd enter the Google Maps search "empoprise-ie near ontario, california." I got two hits, for Pomona Police Detective Services and the Claremont Police Department, which were related to blog posts that I wrote in Blogger (incidentally, a Google service). (Oddly enough, however, when I tried to go to the permalink of the search results, Google wouldn't recognize it.)

So to those who say that companies are doing too much information sharing, I reply that they're not doing enough information sharing. When Google can't share information with Google, you know there's a problem.
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