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Parochialism in Google blogs

Rob Fuller [PersonRank 1]

Saturday, June 26, 2010
9 years ago2,917 views

This is something which has been annoying me for a while...

Google obviously makes a huge effort to appear as a truly global company, and has contributors from all round the world on its official blogs. But when someone from the US writes for their blogs, they often forget that the rest of the world exists.

Yesterday's announcement about Google Voice being available to "everyone" (googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/0 ...) was the worst instance of this so far, but there have been many others. It's a mild irritation when the posting is all about Thanksgiving, or Super Bowl, without explaining what those are. (This post googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/1 ... showed particular arrogance by being titled "laws that govern us", when it was actually about laws that govern the US...) But when the blog post is about a product or feature, it's really frustrating that we have to read all the detail of the post to find out that it applies to the US only.

On the Google Africa blog, if a posting is only relevant to (say) Ghana or Uganda, then that is always clear in the post title and first paragraph. Why can't Google mark "US only" blog posts as such?

Jérôme [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

So true.

"Google Voice for Everyone" is a very good example because if you look at the comments on the Google Mobile Blog, they are all about this "US-centric Internet" issue www.blogger.com/comment.g?blog ... There isn't one single positive feedback! It's a shame that Google didn't bother to change their titles, but only posted udpates at the end of those posts.

It's quite disappointing, especially in the context of the US Senate seriously considering an "Internet kill switch" pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2365 ...

Zim [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

I agree with you. I find this (very) annoying...

George R [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

The Google Voice Blog added a clairification that it was for the USA only 38 minutes after their original post. googlevoiceblog.blogspot.com/2 ...

Its being for the USA only is their stated policy. I suspect there are serveral ways around this if you live outside the USA, but the phone numbers Google issues are USA numbers.

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

I agree with you, but I'd like to say it depends on the authors. Some tend to precise the marketing target of the announcement, several other think that if it applies to their friends, families and themselves then it applies to everyone in the world...
It's especially true with iPad-related news. Ok, 3 millions units sold, but a very large part of them were sold in the USA only... Blog posts or press releases like "Gmail works on iPads" are written like if everybody has an iPad, which is far from the truth.

A S [PersonRank 3]

9 years ago #

This is not a Google problem. This is an American problem. It's easy to forget the rest of the world when you are in the US. :-)

Five Underscores [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

I'd break this problem down into two parts: 1) Some products and services are not universally available. This sucks whether it is something like Pandora, that is not available outside the U.S., or Spotify, which is not available in the U.S.

2) People in the afflicted regions read articles or press releases that fail to mention the limited availability (or fail to mention it with sufficient prominence). This sucks too.

Is it possible, though, that a big reason that this is perceived to be an American problem is that there are many more non-Americans reading American blogs than (for instance) non-Japanese reading Japanese blogs?

Titling a post "Google Voice for everyone" rather than "Google Voice for everyone* (* everyone in the U.S.)" seems like an accidental omission to me.

Actually, I just read the first paragraph of that Google Voice post:

"A little over a year ago, we released an early preview of Google Voice, ... one number to ring all your phones, voicemail that works like email, free calls and text messages to the U.S. and Canada, ... – the only catch was you had to request and receive an invite to try it out. Today, ... we’re excited to open up Google Voice to the public, no invitation required."

If you read it carefully, it seems clear that what was initially a closed beta (available only in the U.S. and Canada) had been opened up.

So the "for everyone" headline was inaccurate, but the post was originally written for the Google Voice blog (readers of which would know that the service is intrinsically U.S.-limited for now since extending Google Voice to other countries requires overcoming physical, infrastructure, and probably regulatory hurdles). It seems like the mistake was in cross-posting to the Google blog... Still, the first paragraph satisfies the original poster's demands (matching the Google Africa blog posting practices).

I hope things get better for those who are unhappy. Here's to a more accurate, more universally available world!

Rob Fuller [PersonRank 1]

9 years ago #

[put at-character here]Five Underscores

I think that the Official Google Blog (googleblog.blogspot.com) is supposed to be international, so it's not about non-Americans reading "American" blogs.

Yes, the way the Google Voice post was written was accidental, but that's the point. It's caused by the arrogance of US-based Google staff who forget that there's a whole world out there. There should be somebody checking for this US-centricism before posts are published.

Also, picking hairs now, but the first paragraph of the Google Voice post referred to "free calls and text messages to the US and Canada". It did *not* say that the service can only be used from the US. And anyway, I believe that the service is still not available in Canada.

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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