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December 21, 2009

Open Google

Jonathan Rosenberg, Senior Vice President at Google, wrote a very interesting email about the value of openness on the web and sent the email to Google's employees. He recommends Googlers to use open standards, to open source software, to make it easy to export data from Google's services and to fight for an open Internet.
Open systems are (...) competitive and far more dynamic. In an open system, a competitive advantage doesn't derive from locking in customers, but rather from understanding the fast-moving system better than anyone else and using that knowledge to generate better, more innovative products. (...)

We use tens of millions of lines of open source code to run our products. We also give back: we are the largest open source contributor in the world, contributing over 800 projects that total over 20 million lines of code to open source, with four projects (Chrome, Android, Chrome OS, and Google Web Toolkit) of over a million lines of code each. (...)

The ability to switch is critical, so instead of building walls around your product, build bridges. (...)

We believe in the power of technology to deliver information. We believe in the power of information to do good. We believe that open is the only way for this to have the broadest impact for the most people. We are technology optimists who trust that the chaos of open benefits everyone. We will fight to promote it every chance we get. Open will win. It will win on the Internet and will then cascade across many walks of life: The future of government is transparency. The future of commerce is information symmetry. The future of culture is freedom. The future of science and medicine is collaboration. The future of entertainment is participation. Each of these futures depends on an open Internet.

It's interesting to notice that many of the products released by Google in the past 2 years are open platforms (Android, Chrome), proposals for open standards (o3d , OpenSocial, Google Wave Protocol) and not just Google services. Google actually invests in a better web.

"If you are trying to grow an entire industry as broadly as possible, open systems trump closed. And that is exactly what we are trying to do with the Internet. Our commitment to open systems is not altruistic. Rather it's good business, since an open Internet creates a steady stream of innovations that attracts users and usage and grows the entire industry," explains Jonathan Rosenberg.

22 comments:

  1. And still their Google Earth is an closed application, relying on third party images and perhaps technologies. I do think the time has come to make it open.

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  2. And the big cellular providers are poised to take the free and open Android platform and turn it into something very closed and expensive. I an doubtful that was what Google had (or should have had) in mind when they released this product. Companies, like Verizon, will use this "open" technology, which they did not have to pay for, to lock their customers into very limited calling/data plans that they cannot afford to get out of... a $350 ETF???

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  3. Supporting open software is Google's way to substantially reduce strength of Microsoft.

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  4. ayyyyyyyyy qurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl. i's be wandain how many Os are in google yo!!! plzzzzzz rezpondd. XDDDDD

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  5. Yes, totally. Great work thus far Google! We support you opening more things :) Keep up the great work towards this!

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  6. By Reducing the benefits of Microsoft, Google is going for open software..

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  7. The best joke ever ! "Open Google" should not be open source some scripts but open logs ! Just open your logs and all the datas you collect about us so we can make great apps too.

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  8. Open Google? How about their web application Google Docs? That one is very much closed source - there is not even a bug tracker or update log. If there is something closed source then it is Google Docs!

    IMHO Google uses Open Source just to get a favourable opinion of the user community, but will abandon excellent projects (e.g. Google Pages, Google Notepad) at a whim - and don't give a d*mn about the existing users; if they'd really cared they had made these projects onto open source ones.

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  9. 1. TechTuesday recently on DC's WAMU, only across board on apps was for Android. Good going!!!

    2. My question: Have 200 or so beautiful images from 22 years in foreign service wish to post, and Google offers me plethora of them. Being lazy by nature, I wish to drag, drop and label them. Any of website apps let me indulge this (positive) laziness/creativity?

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  10. good for us, and good for them
    happy google holidays!

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  11. Some commenters are confusing "open source" software with begin an "open" company.

    For example, Google Docs may not be "open source" but it is very much open is that all docs are exportable to competing formats. GD even allows users to export/download all of one's docs in one fell swoop.

    I don't think Google needs to, or even should, "give away" all their trade secrets and reveal their code.

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  12. The more open the better keep going!

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  13. Great!! ten millions lines of code...

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  14. many companies may try to exploit the open intent of Google and close those systems down to lock people in... but in the spirit of Google's open approach, many consumers will be turned off and turn away. CEOs and Heads of State, take note. Open = Freedom = Power.

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  16. @Michael Paulding Thomas
    "For example, Google Docs may not be "open source" but it is very much open is that all docs are exportable to competing formats."

    That is a very common misconception. Google Docs allows uploading and downloading documents in 'competing formats' but the convertors used make a mess of any complicated document both on upload and download.

    "GD even allows users to export/download all of one's docs in one fell swoop."
    Unfortunately this again is only possible in one of the 'competing formats'; the fact that Google Docs does not allow download/upload in a native truely lossless converted format, disallows users to create real personal back-ups - this feels very much as a lock-in of which the users are not made aware until it is too late.

    "I don't think Google needs to, or even should, "give away" all their trade secrets and reveal their code."

    Of course they don't! But they should act much more professional when it comes to service. As it is now they have adopted self-help system that is very similar to one used i opens source projects - the official Google Docs help forum. But at the same time they did not make a bug tracker and change log available to those trying to find out what is going wrong and help others. In this respect Google should make a decision: fully adopt an Open Source apparoch for Google Docs or be more professional and offer real and substantial help by informed Guides. As it is now Google Docs is a potentially great (but still bug riddled) piece of software with very shallow documentation and virtually absent service (no phone number to call, no e-mail address to write, no form to submit - only the self-help forum).
    And please don't tell me Google Docs is free, and I should be happy with what I get, as the same story goes for the paying Google Apps customers.

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  17. The more open the better keep going!

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  18. And still their Google Earth is an closed application, relying on third party images and perhaps technologies. I do think the time has come to make it open.

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  19. Supporting open software is Google's way to substantially reduce strength of Microsoft..

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  20. Supporting open software is Google's way to substantially reducnme strength of Microsoft

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  21. Google is not that "evil" after all. Open source is the future of technology!

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  22. The more open the better keep going!

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