World's Most Arrogant Company
I love Google. I really love Google. Since the twilight years of the 20th century, there's been no other search engine for me. I sampled all the early search engines during the free-for-all 90s, when everybody and their dog was launching an internet start-up, and they were all pretty much the same; usable, sure, but overly commercial, busy and distracting. Then Google came - as a revelation, creating a virtual Zen-moment for everyone that witnessed it in all it's spare glory. For me, having become inured to all the major search engines that crammed every square pixel with garish colors and bouncing ads, seeing Google was a quiet epiphany. The elegant, minimal (almost no) design - a single logo, one search field, two buttons and most surprisingly - all that beautiful, empty s p a c e . At the time this "less-is-more" approach was radical, even innovative. Google did just one thing and it did it well and millions got the Google religion, just like I did. Though through the years my faith has sometimes been shaken, but it has never broken and to this day I remain a true believer.
Since those young, sort-of innnocent days, Google has blown up all OVER the scene to become a massively powerful company that now rivals even Microsoft in the race to shape (dictate?) the computing paradigm. I definitely belong to the Google/Borg collective: I am One with Gmail, Blogger (obviously), Google Earth, Maps, Toolbar, Docs, Calendar, Translator, etc on a daily basis. I worship Picassa, I dream with SketchUp and have had many a precious YouTube moment in between. Taking a page out of the well-worn Microsoft playbook, Google has made some shrewed, forward-thinking aquisitions along the way. The rate of Google's growth and aquisitions has finally reached the point that I can't even TRY everything Google is making up or buying out. Google is Huge with a capital H and they're taking over the world. Next target - China!
So you can believe me when I say I'm a fan of Google. However, having tried out the colorful new "Theme" module on Gmail, I'm here to testify that Google has got to be the world's most arrogant company. Why? I'm so glad you asked!
Google doesn't want to hear from you, me or any one of the zillion other Google users out there. Why should they? They already know what you, me and everyone else wants and needs to know, right? Do we not "Google" every question that arises in our primitive monkey brains? Is Google not the Giant Brain of God we picketh whenever we have a burning question that requires an immediate answer?
Naturally Google, in it's infinite wisdom hath populated and blessed the Help section with every concieveable answer we mortals could possibly need. It's all on Google, so there's no need to petition the gods with nuisance email. The Contact Us page has an address, a phone number, but NO EMAIL ADDRESS. Like I of all people am going to sit down with pen and paper and *guffaw* write a letter. Even contact via the Gmail Help section requires the most extraordinary penance and sacrifice. There's no option for "General Comment" or "Other". No, all that cross this threshold are sinners and so therefore it must be a PROBLEM. The Google gods require that you fill out a page and a half of required fields, right down to the number contained in the confirmation email you received when you signed up for an account. Without this sacrament, you can't even submit your inquiry and I deleted that bitch a million years ago! It's like the crusty old vicar at the church door demanding to see your umbilical cord before you can enter into the Presence.
In the Privacy section I did find a small form, none-too-subtly titled, "I have a question about privacy" and if you manage to avoid the diversionary FAQ links, the sections ends with, "If you have other privacy-related concerns, please submit a message below. We'll review your note and follow up with you only if we require more info or we have additional info to share." (emphasis mine) The thing is, Google will NEVER require more information from you because Google already knows it all. Google will NOT have additional info to "share" with you because Google has already provided and laid it all out for you.
So this is the existential crux of my gripe: Google has become, in a sense, as remote as God. Google has made it impossible for you to communicate anything, good, bad or indifferent because in Google's exalted sphere, it simply does not matter. Google giveth and Google taketh away (if the Chinese government says so) but as a mere cogs in the vast scheme of things it is simply our lot to trust, accept and believe. Google requires nothing else from you, mere speck.
Goddamn, Google. All I wanted to say is how much I love the super-kawaii Tea House theme on my goddamned Google home page. How cool it is that the view changes as the day goes by. How nothing in this world is cuter than a little fox eating sushi. Maybe Google would hear my prayer to let ME construct and upload my OWN theme. But I'm sure Google already knows how cool it is and doesn't need me, a tiny, insignificant mote in the vast universe that is Google to validate or suggest anything. Listen Google, even if you provided an email address that just pointed to the Recycle Bin, at least I would have the pleasure of raising my voice in praise of ye gods and it wouldn't cost your collective eminences an actual or virtual cent!
Say what you want about Microsoft, but at least they make a pretense of caring.
God, Google, you're not going to make this easy, are you??