Google not only does evil but proves its stupidity over Google+ names | acidlabs Studios
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Google not only does evil but proves its stupidity over Google+ names

Google not only does evil but proves its stupidity over Google+ names

While I certainly empathise with Stil’s incandescence over this, there’s a simple set of assumptions from a customer/user experience basis all the “Stil is an idiot” clown pack aren’t getting.

It simply doesn’t matter whether he/you/I pay for a service or not, if it’s offered up out there in the wild on a basis that it includes a wide user base and geography, it should meet or exceed the expectations of the user in its flexibility and capability.

It’s completely reasonable to expect, for example, that name fields should not only not ask for First Name and Last Name (rather it should be Given Name and Family Name to allow for cultural and language variants), but that they should also allow for mononyms (a single name, common in certain cultures) and pseudonyms (which many of us use online).

For example, I’m widely known as “trib”. Its etymology is largely lost in the mists of time, but it’s used by my family, friends, colleagues and at least one Senator. Should I choose, why shouldn’t I be permitted to use it, so long as it can be tied, in a private exchange between a service provider and me, to a verifiable identity?

Google’s blind insistence in the case of Google+ that names not only be in a standard English form, thus failing legally mononymous folk like Stil, but that they also not be pseudonymous treads a line that fails to protect any number of people who conduct their perfectly legitimate online lives behind an alter-identity, for a wide-ranging set of reasons that have more than adequately been discussed, at length, elsewhere (may I take the liberty of pointing folk at danah boyd’s post on the matter). Beyond that, it fails any number of reasonable user experience expectations that, as an application, Google+ be flexible enough to deal with its not insignificant user base, no matter how their name is formed.

Stephen Collins
trib@acidlabs.org
4 Comments
  • Sarah Bourne
    Posted at 21:26h, 16 August Reply

    Google suffers from techie arrogance: because they know so many clever things, they believe this means they know everything. If they don’t know it, it’s not likely to be true, or at least not important.

    Their objective is not some altruistic desire to create a social sphere that will be free of all the terrible privacy pitfalls of Facebook. Since they’re not charging for it, I assume that users are the product, not the customer. And what is the product? Authentication. As they say, they this is just the first iteration and they plan to make improvements as they go. I expect future iterations to make use of their massive data stores and mining techniques to assign confidence levels to user-created identities. That is a marketable commodity to businesses – maybe even governments! Single sign-on for all! And it’s Google, so it won’t be evil!

    But they don’t want to bother with the usual rigmarole of checking paper documentation and record-keeping that goes along with, say, issuing a passport or drivers license, so they instead try to apply logical rules. Alas for them, it seems they didn’t spend a lot of time looking at any of the existing body of knowledge on the form legal names can take.

    And, by the way, that means they just don’t care about pseudonyms or alternate identities. They only want the kind of identities banks and businesses will deal with.

    Follow the money.

  • Brendan
    Posted at 21:41h, 16 August Reply

    Stupid can throw 11.5 billion around like small change. whatever dood. You may have a point but I promise you they are smarter than you.

  • Kim
    Posted at 20:28h, 17 November Reply

    And then you have perfectly legitimate surname like mine that is hyphenated … but that for some reason is not acceptable. I’ve met that on some sites … and just taken my business elsewhere.

  • Web Designer
    Posted at 17:42h, 23 November Reply

    I would look at it this way: First of all we have to agree that Google is clever, and I mean, very cleaver. They have some of the best people working with them and they know what is expected of them. Having said this, it must be understood that a lot is going on in Google right now. They are working on a lot of new projects. They have launched Google+, but not necessarily what you see now is going to be permanent and for ever. They are doing a lot of changes here and there. Some times some button goes missing and cannot be found for days, it it suddenly reappears (I am talking about Blogger interface here.) It just means they are working and restructuring things. What the final product will be will be know at a much latter stage.

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