Death to Blogger!

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A bit of sad news today for anyone that started their online career with this ubiquitous site…

“Say goodbye to the Picasa and Blogger names: Google intends to retire several non-Google name brands and rename them as Google products, Mashable has learned.  The move is part of a larger effort to unify its brand for the public launch of Google+, the search giant’s social initiative.”

Our friends at Mashable.com go on to tell us that the Blogger platform isn’t going anywhere, just getting a rebrand.

I started my blogging career with Blogger.  I’ve moved to WordPress since, like a lot of people, but the Blogger platform is certainly a respected name and welcome home to many. Losing the Picasa name will also sting a bit.

It’s not that the tools are going away.  It’s not that the functions will disappear, the software will uninstall, or the Intertubes will collapse due to a sudden vacuum where those sites used to be.  But they are warm and fuzzy places for many of us.  They are trusted names in our online world, and seeing them swept aside in the name of progress is a little sad.

Anyone who has watched a sports venue torn down knows the feeling.  You grow up in a stadium, you have a head full of memories to keep you warm, but it still rips out a bit of your heart to see it gone.  I still get a twinge when I look at the shiny new building where the St. Louis Arena used to stand.  But progress sometimes requires we say goodbye to places we love.

Many of us have a history with Blogger and/or Picasa.  That’s why they were valuable properties.  That’s why Google snatched them up.  But I doubt there was much notice when Grand Central was rebranded.  These two properties have more cache, I think, and their names have been part of our online world seemingly since the beginning.  But progress (and Google+) declares they must adapt, and so they shall.

So long, Blogger and Picasa.  You’ll be missed.

Driverless Cars

No, they aren’t coming. They are already here. Thanks again, Google!

How did this happen without us noticing? How did it fly under the radar for so long. Why weren’t we invited to conference calls, coffee sessions, brown bag lunch-and-learns, town hall meetings, fireside chats, webcasts, status updates or project reviews? Where was the change management?!?!?!

When it comes to culture changes, this will be a big one. We’ve been waiting for driverless cars since well before Phillip K. Dick brought them up. We aren’t getting our jetpacks, hoverboards or flying cars, but this is a step in that direction. So why has it been done so quietly?

There’s a lesson for anyone who runs projects or is involved in large scale technology rollouts. It’s OK to play your cards close to the vest. There is nothing wrong with waiting to talk about the next big thing until you know it works. You don’t need to start broadcasting your intentions, your updates, your timelines on day one. Know what you are building and know that it works before you bring it to our attention.

Change management and communications are critical, no doubt. But so is your credibility in changing the world. Knowing when to share and when to work quietly can not only build your reputation, it can protect it as well.

Google as Politcal Weapon (and What That Means to You)

Via Politico.com:

Chris Bowers, campaign director for the Daily Kos, is launching a behind-the-scenes campaign against 98 House Republican candidates that attempts to capitalize on voters’ Google search habits in the hopes of influencing midterm races.
Bowers wants the Daily Kos’ thousands of participants to dig up little-noted or controversial news stories about the candidates that could hurt their chances with undecided voters. Users would click on the links and blog about the stories with the goal of boosting their rankings on search engines, so that undecided voters will discover them more easily.

Political leanings aside, this strikes me as both brilliant and terrifying at the same time.

Brilliant! Undecided voters are generally the one who go in search of information on candidates, as opposed to waiting for the voices of Fox News or MSNBC to tell them what to think.  By understanding how those key voters will seek out information, Bowers has positioned his team to put the information most beneficial to their cause in the line of sight.

Terrifying! Like most other things in life, the Google must be questioned with what it brings you.  There are biases in the algorithms used to power it, and Bowers it taking advantage of them.  And, like most other things in life, the people who are most likely to use the tool are the ones least likely to really understand it.

We’ve talk at great length about Googling candidates and teammates.  This is just another reason to be careful when sorting through the results.

If You Can’t Google Your Employees, Who Can You Google?

Much has been written over the last few weeks about Google searches on applicants.  In this week’s edition of the Riverfront Times, the lead story is about Kendra Holliday, author of the blog The Beautiful Kind.  (Word of caution, this blog is as NSFW as you can get.)  She has been blogging her personal stories for some time now, always anonymously.  In honor of Coming Out Day this week, she has for the first time revealed her name and face to the public.

The story is an interesting one, but the part that caught my attention is in regards to her Twitter feed.  Due to a glitch, her real name was, for a brief moment, attached to her feed.  It was quickly corrected but, as we know, the Google never forgets.  She was fired from her part time job at a non-profit in St. Louis because of it, being told:

“We simply cannot risk any possible link between our mission and the sort of photos and material that you openly share with the online public. While I know you are a good worker and an intelligent person, I hope you try to understand that our employees are held to a different standard. When it comes to private matters, such as one’s sexual explorations and preferences, our employees must keep their affairs private.” (For the complete article, click here.)

My post isn’t about her so much as it is about her employer.  They were concerned about the image their organization projects to the public.  This is the corollary of the “can I Google an applicant and not feel dirty” discussion.  In my mind, I completely understand what was done and why.  It’s unfortunate, and I would hope it was handled with grace, but I can see the issue for a non-profit.

At the same time, this is a cautionary tale to those that have worked to create an online presence.  Never forget that what you put out there can be found, and you can be called to account for it.  So be thoughtful.

So is it OK to do these searches on your team?  And is it OK to act on it?

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