Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


Google Desktop Sharing could be really really bad

Filed under: — adam @ 1:45 pm

It’s possible that Google might want to network the various installations of Google Desktop into a P2P network. Google already has all of the pieces to make this work – the Hello software that’s part of Picasa already does it. It does raise the question of this – if they use Orkut to enable file sharing with Orkut friends, does the content you share then fall under the Orkut policies? Probably, which means that then, if this happens, and you use it, Google has silently acquired a “worldwide, non-exclusive, sublicenseable, transferable, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to copy, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform and display” any of your files. “Don’t be evil, my ass”.

The orkut terms of service is extremely one-sided (much more so than any of the other Google services), and any attempts by Google to incorporate orkut into any of its other services should be watched carefully. Or, even better, it should probably be stricken from this world.

Paolo Massa Blog: Enormous P2P Network by Google

The orkut Terms of Service

My earlier analysis on this.

5 Responses to “Google Desktop Sharing could be really really bad”

  1. Febrile Audacity Says:

    If any of this is true, which I suspect it isnt, you can always just uninstall the software and get on with life. Anyone who is stupid enough to run all of these services without knowing what they are doing deserves what they get, just like the millions of lusers who run windows, vote republican, drink Coca-Cola and smoke Marlboros. Google is not evil. Microsoft is not evil. People are stupid; willfully stupid, and that is the true evil above all others.

  2. adam Says:

    Well, I can’t say whether it’s true. It’s speculation. That’s not really the point. The point is twofold:

    1) The orkut terms of service stand. They are bad. They are a bad precedent. In a world where lots of useful functionality is provided by services, people need to be aware of what those services are asking in return. Sure, people may be stupid, or ignorant, or any number of other things (and I hope that the evidence of that is simply the vocal majority) – but that is NOT a good reason to stop trying to convince them, and bring attempts to capitalize on that to light.

    2) In an increasingly networked world, it is not enough to say “I find this objectionable, so I simply won’t use it”. For some things, it is bad that they even exist, it is bad that other people are using them, and it is even worse that other people are using them without understanding why they’re bad. These things are bad because they can have rippling effects through the rest of the system, and they lower the standards of acceptability for all of us. These things are bad because the next thing that’s worse points to that and says “hey, that’s okay, lots of people are using that”, and bang! they’ve got an excuse for something worse. Privacy, consumer rights, and intellectual property claims ERODE OVER TIME if they are not arduously protected. In a digital world, this is not just your trademark or your business or your movie (although those things are arguably important), it is your life, and your ability to do the things you want to do.

  3. Febrile Audacity Says:

    Whether the Orkut (or any other software or services) terms of service are bad or not is irrelevant You have the choice not to use those pieces of software and services that have egregious terms of service or that do not respect your privacy. The choice in the end is always yours. By all means, we need to convince people to buy Mac, not smoke and don’t drink coke, but saying that Google is evil is just stupid; its like the government saying that drugs are bad and thinking that this statement will stem the tide of heroin abusers.
    It is not bad that these services exist. There will always be services that are bad and which disrespect the consumer / user. The rippling effects you describe can work to the disadvantage of bad services and expectations, or at least they should. As for lower the standards of acceptability for all of us, this is nonsense. Rights don’t erode over time, they remain fixed, as does the nature of man. What does change is the attitude of the young; we seem to be in the throes of a particularly revolting set of young people, who are wiling to give away all of their rights with no more than a “whatever” in response. Pathetic. As for “they” having an excuse, they have no excuse at all, but what they do have is a generation that will facilitate their fascist blueprint for everyone because they can hardly string a sentence together, much less be aware of their rights, or even know in which context they need to use the word rights.
    Right and wrong are not eroded or mutated because people accept lower standards. No one forces you to eat McDonalds because millions of peasants in tower blocks eat it, and in fact that bad company is dying in spite of it being consumed by millions of people. People are waking up to the evil that that company does and they are turning away from it. Ripples working for the good of people. I have to agree that in the networked world saying “I find this objectionable, so I simply won’t use it” really doesn’t cut it. This is especially true now because almost anyone can build the services that they want to replace the bad services and software with excellent alternatives. Linux is a great example of this. Saying Google may be evil is a symptom of the weakness and inertia of idiots. Either write your own tools and create your own services, or at least, link to the other alternatives (in this case, to Google desktop search, of which there are a few really good options for both Mac and PC) or go back to sleep I say, because in the absence of that, its all meaningless hot air.

  4. william strathearn Says:

    I think you are confusing popularity with evilness. It’s a common misconception set in most peoples mind by the rise of Microsoft. Remember: Google is your Friend and doesn’t want to do anything to harm thier customer base. They might want to make money on occasion, but they will probably do this in non-evil ways.

  5. adam Says:

    I’ve pressed Google on some of these issues (like what information Google is sharing with Orkut and vice versa), and their answers have been extremely evasive. These policies are not worded the way they are by accident – they are carefully crafted.

    You say “Google is your Friend”. I’m curious to know why you think so, because from where I stand, there isn’t one shred of evidence for that. Google does what’s good for Google, and stands mute on everything else.

    Let’s take the IPO for a minute. Supposed to be open and egalitarian, right? Except that they carefully crafted all of the rules so they were holding all of the cards. The general public gets to bid – we’ll open up the process. Oh, but we reserve the right to nullify “outlier” bids at our discretion. Oh, and you can only buy “public” shares that have .1 of the voting rights of ours. Where are the records of the supposedly “open” bidding? Here’s a question – did anyone who bid $85/share in the auction get IPO shares?

Powered by WordPress