John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Schmidt: Don’t Like Google Street View Photographing Your House? Then Move.


“The problem with Google is that Eric Schmidt is creepy….The industry is filled with eccentric CEOs–billionaires who, say, wear a wardrobe that consists of nothing but identical black shirts and Levi’s 501 jeans, or who dress as a samurai warrior, including swords, at their home. But Schmidt doesn’t seem eccentric (or at least not merely so). He seems creepy.”

John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says the company’s “policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.” And while that may be true of Google, it’s clearly not true of Schmidt, who lately has been happily high stepping across the creepy line like the grand marshal of the Tone-Deaf Technocrat Parade.

In the past year alone he has:

  • Addressed criticisms of Google’s stance on privacy by saying, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
  • Claimed people want Google to “tell them what they should be doing next.”
  • Said of Google, “We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”
  • Said this: “One day we had a conversation where we figured we could just try to predict the stock market. And then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that.”
  • Suggested name changes to protect adults from the Web’s record of their youthful indiscretions.
  • Said this: “What we’re really doing is building an augmented version of humanity, building computers to help humans do the things they don’t do well better.”

Nice selection of remarks with which to begin a Bartlett’s Unsettling Quotations From Powerful CEOs, right?

And Schmidt’s far from done. Appearing on CNN’s “Parker Spitzer” program last week, he said that people who don’t like Google’s Street View cars taking pictures of their homes and businesses “can just move” afterward to protect their privacy. Ironically, he said this on the very day that Google admitted those cars captured more than just fragments of personal payload data.

Interestingly, CNN has since edited that quote out of Schmidt’s segment. Did Google ask CNN to remove it? Who knows. Perhaps the company has finally realized that Schmidt’s penchant for indulging in this sort of pedantic dorkery doesn’t do much for its public image.

Freaking people out with asinine power-tripping pronouncements might be great fun for Schmidt, but it isn’t a wise PR strategy, particularly when Google is a company about which the public and government are increasingly concerned.

Schmidt really should know this.

Actually, it’s hard to believe he doesn’t.

Which is just…creepy.

UPDATE: Here’s Google’s official comment on Schmidt’s “just move” remark as given MarketWatch: “The point Eric was making is that our Street View service provides only a static picture in time, and doesn’t provide real-time imagery or provide any information about where people are. Of course, we also allow users to request that their home be removed from Street View.”

UPDATE: CNN says Google did not ask that Schmidt’s remark be removed from the broadcast version of the show. “Producers routinely make editorial decisions about what sound bites to include in their shows,” a spokesperson told me via e-mail. “In this case, the clip was posted on and disseminated to other media outlets and was widely available.”

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus