Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Is “Google Me” Real? “I Won’t Say,” Says Eric Schmidt.

Is Google really working on its own social network, meant to compete with Facebook?

Don’t ask Eric Schmidt. At least not in public. Someone did that at the Guardian’s tech conference yesterday, and he gave the following non-answer: “That would be a product announcement and I won’t say.”

Okay, then. We’ll add that to the rather thin body of evidence that suggests that the search giant is, in fact, working on something called “Google Me.” The list so far:

  • A tweet, now deleted, from Digg CEO Kevin Rose, describing a “rumor” from a “very credible source.”
  • A much more confident assertion from former Facebook CTO Adam D’Angelo, who wrote about the project on Quora, his new Q&A start-up.

And that’s it, as far as I know. On one hand, it would be easy enough for Schmidt to bat this one away if it were a complete fabrication; on the other hand, if he got into the habit of denying reports about Google (GOOG) projects under development, he’d never get anything done.

Meanwhile, if you’re trying to assess Google’s chances at building a plausible social network, I think it’s fair to look at Orkut, its original attempt (big in Brazil!), and Google Buzz, its weird and unwieldy Twitter response. But I wouldn’t count Google Wave against them–best I can tell, that non-starter of a messaging product was truly a lab experiment conducted by a handful of engineers. If there really are a “are a large number of people” working on Google Me, as D’Angelo maintains, this could be interesting.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work