Two things happened this week that made me think of this column – the first I wrote for Haaretz on June 2013. The first is that Google kind of announce its social network Google Plus, will go the way of the Wave and the Buzz. The second is that, simultaniously, they’ve sent an email to the old Google Talk desktop app saying their favorite way to communicate has signed on for the very last time. As I was translating the following words to English, I found them to be as fresh as the day I hammered them on my keyboard with my forehead. /
I just have to say it, I’m afraid of Google, Google terrifies me, I stay up nights – maybe not the whole night, okay, but a good two-three hours of perfectly good sleep time – being just really scared shitless of Google. I’m not afraid of Google because they’re reading my emails or collecting my WiFi passwords or drinking my milkshake – no. I have good reasons. I’m afraid of Google because half my life goes on, irrevocably and with no chance of parole, within the confines of Google’s many services, and Google, while they say its halls are Segwayed back and forth by the brightests fellows, is sometimes – many times – just a big herd of lummox.
Take, for example, this new upgrade – and let’s not concern ourselves with this word, “upgrade”, right now – this new upgrade coming to us now like dirty, sand-covered Manna from heaven: Google is sending down its old, reliable IM, Google Talk, and replacing it with Hangouts, the least rejected member in the band of social media services known as Google Plus. This isn’t a theoretical disaster we might have to face in some distant future, this is happening right now, all around us. Hangouts, as this new broom is called, is a Chrome add-on, it’s a smartphone app, it’s in your bowl of soup, waiting for you to take a big sip so it could jump out and yell “please click here to update your Google Talk experience!”
Google Talk, the old broom, is really an excptional phenomenon in the Googlesphere, an excellent, lean and clean service that just. Friggin. Works. You can use it for just one purpose, which is to IM people. Google Talk is swept away, and not one person from Google called me to discuss this thing.
And what, pray, is this new tool, this Hangouts? Well.