Google Forum II

October 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last week I went to Google’s London offices for the second year in a row to attend the "Google Forum."  This is an impressive name for a bunch of social science scholars from Glasgow, LSE, Oxford, Leicester, Cambridge and a few other places (mostly close to London, as travel costs are not yet available) to discuss with Google ways of using their data in our research and teaching.  This year, we got a presentation from Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian (author of Information Rules amongst other books).

I don’t know what I expect from these forums but I find myself vaguely disappointed.  The pitch is that Google has great data that they want the scientific community to be able to use; and we of course wish to use the data.  So far so good.  but the reality is more like this:

Google: Here is our wonderful program Google Insights.  Please use it to make great science!

Us: Thank you but we’d actually like to use some different data in a slightly different format.  And we want to know more about the data. And more about you, actually.  Can we have some preferential access?

Google: Here is our wonderful program Google Insights!  Our "Information for Webmasters" page will tell you everything else you need to know!

The sad part is that everyone is quite sincere and friendly.  I suppose we will try again next year?


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