Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Please Compare

Here's a piece from the New Yorker, by Om Malik. April 4, 2016.

And here's me, May 20, 2015. And then, me again, in June 2015.

That's me, out in front! But Google's Photos product has indeed progressed since I wrote that, and it is indeed trying to do more. It's still missing the output piece, and I assume google will abandon the product, or try to pivot it into being the next Social Network Thingy before they get around to it.

Malik and Google have both missed the point that simply organizing this stuff (and what google does is both miraculous and entirely inadequate, at this point) is not enough. You've got to let me do something with that. I need to be able to take those organized collections and:
  • Fine tune them, easily
  • Do something with the resulting bolus of photographs
Google's bread and butter is simply "organizing" things (which they think means tagging, without hierarchy, because they are dumb and anyways all they have is this hammer) so the output side simply hasn't occurred to them. Which means it hasn't occurred to Mr. Malik either.

Let me print the collection as a book, share it as a Ken Burns-ified movie, share it as a collection with my friends, download it to my digital picture frame, print it as a collection of identically framed prints to mass on a wall, whatever. Make some stuff up, do something, anything, with the result. This is a perfect moment to upsell some stuff, google. Arrrg.

Instead Mr. Malik wanders off into vague nonsense quoting various people about how photography is "becoming more of a visual language" (what, again?) and “real value creation will come from stitching together photos as a fabric, extracting information and then providing that cumulative information as a totally different package” which sounds like standard Silicon Valley jive that means exactly nothing. Silicon Valley has, for the last decade or more, eaten well on the theory that if you can just heap up enough data in a pile, then you can IPO and make a ton of money. This standard jive is how they sell that, and what it means is "we have no idea how to turn this pile of data into money, except by selling our own stock, so we're planning to do that" which in turn means that the giant pile of data actually hasn't got any value...

... because we can't figure out what to actually do with it.

So solve that problem, you punks. Except they won't, because the Standard Jive tells them that once you have the pile of data, you're done. It's received wisdom, and need not be questioned. Neitehr Malik nor Google even recognize that there's a problem here.

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