Category Archives: Technology

Spread Too Thin

While some corporate choices lead us down a garden path to delightful gains, some journeys can delay growth as an organization. Worse still, some decisions can sink the entire ship by sapping energy and resources from an enterprise’s core competency.

Too Big to Succeed?
In initial drafts of this post, I struggled with the conflict of how much I love using Google Search, Google Maps, and a variety of other Google products with the difficulty I was experiencing with Google Apps, a platform of services including Google Docs services like word processing, spreadsheets, and Google’s GMail for business email service. I found the extremely low per-user fee charged to businesses using Google Apps and free availability of some services to be at odds with professional use when support is required; for a period of time last year, the spreadsheet service was completely unavailable for edits or uploads. However, I was wrong. My thesis was planned to be “Spread Too Thin,” based on the idea that by taking on so many tasks, and by becoming a Jack of All Trades, Google might become the anecdotal Master of None.

I Stand Corrected
While complaining about services which in some cases are completely developed to compete with existing models (maps.google.com is now in many ways better than the MapQuest.com who dominated the market years ago, or launching Google+ to integrate social networking directly into the Google suite and in effect take on Facebook and Twitter), I underestimated the work that appears to go into this kind of Google growth. The leverage of large monopolies is always fraught with peril, because if a firm becomes too large and exerts its own girth in order to control the market, it runs the risk of competing unfairly. But looking at this in-depth, Google appears to target large opportunities, in fact bringing its considerable cannons to bear only on sizable markets, even when they appear unrelated to existing lines of Google business. When a small company is achieving remarkable growth, as in the case of Groupon.com, Google makes all efforts to acquire the firm and acquire the intellectual property, only competing when required.

Redux
I now consider the progress made on new and exciting (sometimes seemingly unrelated) fronts for Google to be not only what is currently called “creative destruction” or constructing “disruptive technology” but better still, the achievement of Google’s mission: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. It’s a win because they succeed far more often than they fail.

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Strange Love: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Anna Kournikova Virus

(Reprinted from 2600 Magazine, Spring, 2001)

It’s odd the people you keep in your address book. As a reader of 2600 for the past eight years, you learn a lot about what people will and won’t find offensive. You learn that people will complain about things that affect them, and won’t complain if it hasn’t affected them yet.

When I received the Anna Virus, I knew it for what it was: a program created by some hacker that had been sent to me unwittingly by another individual. I guessed it might be a worm that would be sent out to another user after an inadvertent reading or clicking of the email message containing it.

I clicked.

Within minutes I was receiving phone calls and emails, some laughing and joking, others solemn and angry, from all the people in my address book. Some were asking what I had sent. One man even wanted help opening the attachment. “I’m sure she’s hot,” he replied. “But my mail program won’t open the picture.”

I had sent email to people who owed me money, to people I am in litigation with, to women I haven’t called after an affair went sour, to men I had admired, to persons I had feared.

Worst of all, I hadn’t just sent an email. I had sent them the virus.

It took a few hours to sink in the potential impact of what had happened and you can imagine that I could have been angry. I could have been dismayed. But I had made the choice to try the virus anyway. I had been in good company. CNN carried news of the virus well into the next few days. I was elated and disgusted at the same time. I had burned bridges and made others laugh at my actions. I felt happy I had made no mistake. I had run the virus on purpose.

Now the most important question many would ask is why create such an ugly virus? “Why do hackers have to waste so much time and money on destructive forces?” they demand to know. My response is simple. If the virus I received had short-circuited my copy of Windows, if it had sent instructions to my hard drive to reach for a sector that didn t exist, gouging a new hole in my storage space, the Anna Virus would have been wrong and sickly twisted, something I could hate.

But it didn’t. It taught me, and many of you, a lesson. It taught us to guard against such threats and to be ever wary of what we see and open. It took nothing from me, nothing but a little pride, which I could make do without. And the Anna Virus introduced me to people I haven’t spoken to in a long, long, time.

Their emails may begin with “I think you have a virus….” But they all end with “So how are you doing these days? How is life?”

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