John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Please Leave a Message for Google to Data Mine After the Tone …

ffgoogle2.jpgLet’s face it: Google probably knows more about us than the National Security Agency ever will. Over the years it has amassed a staggering amount of user data–search queries, email records, social networks, purchase histories and the like.

And now it’s adding voice data. Or rather, more voice data than what it’s already collecting with Google 411. This morning, Google announced its plans to buy GrandCentral Communications, making the universal phone service its 12th purchase in six months. No terms were disclosed; though GrandCentral reportedly fetched a bit north of $50 million.

“GrandCentral offers many features that complement the phone services you already use. If you have multiple phone numbers (e.g., home, work, cell), you get one phone number that you can set to ring all, some, or none of your phones, based on who’s calling,” Google product manager Wesley Chan wrote in the Google Blog. “This way, your phone number is tied to you, and not your location or job. The service also gives you one central voice mailbox. You can listen to your voice mails online or from any phone, forward them to anybody, add the caller to your address book, block a caller as spam, and a lot more. You can even listen in on voice mail messages from your phone while they are being recorded, or switch a call from your cellphone to your desk phone and back again. All in all, you’ll have a lot more control over your phones.”

And Google will have a lot more control over your voice data, which it will presumably harvest for future use in voice search applications, something it’s already doing with Google 411. From Google’s 411 Privacy Policy: “We also collect and store a copy of the voice commands you make to the service, so we can audit, evaluate and improve the voice-recognition capabilities of the service.

What was it Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy once said? “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald