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Is Google The New Graham Norton?

... - and it doesn’t really matter in which genre of the media you appear - overkill can lead to a ... Graham Norton, for example, started out as a cheeky Irishman who happened to be hom

Inevitably - and it doesn’t really matter in which genre of the media you appear - overkill can lead to a backlash. Graham Norton, for example, started out as a cheeky Irishman who happened to be homosexual. But now he just seems too gay. He acts like an E 120-addled leprechaun, perpetually tumescent, and until recently, perpetually on our screens.

But of course, as I’ve said, overkill exists elsewhere and Google is no exception. With its cheeky irreverence and young vibrancy (scooters and lava lamps in their offices), is Google in danger of rapidly becoming the Graham Norton of the internet? Without the homosexuality obviously – a gay search engine would be slightly surreal.

Backlashing is not peculiar to the British, but dear god, we do it well. However, this isn’t really a backlash, per se. More a sense of apprehension because I am rapidly becoming tired of Google-this, Google-that. Could it be possible that others are?

The corporation is - rightly so - an admirable example of the American dream. Start from the bottom and work your way to the top. After all, in 1998 Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google’s co-founders) were still working on search technology whilst students. Larry's Stanford dorm room became Google's data centre while Sergey's room was the office. And inevitably there’s fun to be had on the way, like seeing Bill Gates look paler by the day.

Esquire magazine recently ran a feature on Google and there were Larry and Sergey. They still looked wet behind the ears. Which of course they’re not. With Google, as reported recently now reputedly worth anywhere between $25 and $50 billion, there’s computer genius and astute business acumen going on there.

These two are fully aware of the dangers, the perilous way in which users of the internet follow trends. As they say: “The competition is only a click away.”

It’s a double-edged sword of course. Google far outweighs the competition if you’re going to use the internet for research purposes. Silly Yahoo! Want to play games, find a date etc? Then go to their homepage. But they are of course a search directory, Google is a search engine. But is this search engine in danger of losing the vision and direction by trying to become the competition?

You wouldn’t think so. At first. Click on the link for the site’s corporate information and you can read their mission statement which clearly states that “Google's mission is to make the world's information universally accessible and useful.”

A further link consolidates this proposal. “Google does search. Google does not do horoscopes, financial advice or chat.” No chat? Well, in effect, no there aren’t chatrooms as such, but having Blogger™ (introduced on May 10th) and Google Groups is dangerously close.

The corporation proudly states that “Google Groups comprises more than 845 million Usenet messages, which is the world's largest collection of messages or the equivalent of more than a terabyte of human conversation.”

When you have a conversation, you chat. End of. Incidentally, they have to rely on Yahoo! for the messages being posted. Surely not a merger in the pipelines I hope. If so, you’ll find me back in the reference section of the library…

Would you go to a search engine to “search” whether you have an email? Well, no. So what is it we hear about the corporation bringing out their own email service? A look at their recent press releases suggests the corporation won’t be happy until they have conquered… what? Well, there’s talk of Gmail not being far off, but would you be overly surprised if you saw the postman brandishing the Google logo on his clothes and mailbag?

And take Froogle (frugal, geddit?) Granted, it is a useful way of searching for products at low prices but where does Froogle stop and eBay begin?

The Google phenomenon is massive. If you want to know about global trends, then Google Zeitgeist is a fantastic yardstick. And with ideas such as this Google Zeitgeist, incredibly useful for sure.

If Google want to expand, that’s fine but then they’re becoming more than just a search engine and they should stop calling themselves one. This diversification would suggest that they are losing touch with their initial mission statement as mentioned above. And it would suggest that pretty soon, I’m going to become more than a little sick of this brand name. Google’s homepage is blank. Or as near as goddammit. Is it going to stay that way?

The irony is definitely there. By diversifying, by trying to attract more and more users, are they going to risk becoming unpopular? Remember just one thing, as they themselves have said. Google’s competition is “just a click away”Psychology Articles, and right now my right index finger is beginning to twitch.

© Copyright Holmes Charnley mmiv

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