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Jeff Jarvis
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Jeff Jarvis

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What an offensive pile of crap from Germany's leading privacy extremist: He calls Google Glass a weapon for the violation of personal rights." Oy. 
Thilo Weichert, der Großinquisitor des deutschen Datenschutzes von Gottes Gnaden, nennt Google Glass (also ein untermotorisiertes und unterbatteriefiziertes Smartphone mit ner so lala Kamera, welches man vorm Gesicht trägt) eine Waffe.

Das ist auf so viele Arten geschmacklos, dass es mir fast die Sprache verschlägt. Ich weiß nicht genau, was der Mann nimmt, aber die Dosis stimmt nicht.

Lieber Herr Weichert: Nehmen Sie weniger oder nehmen Sie mehr. Oder besser: Suchen Sie sich Hilfe.
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Thanks to Snowden the Tech backlash is in full swing.
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Jeff Jarvis

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A radical solution. 
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Alt text: I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.
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+Omer Tene  and +Jules Polonetsky  wrote a theory of creepy. Here is what I had to say about the word "creepy" in my book Public Parts

The worst definition of privacy, the one I also hear quite often at privacy conferences and in conversations, is contained in one word: “creepy.” Internet applications or ad tracking or RFID chips are called creepy. Google puts its Street View camera on a bike to take it to places cars can’t go, and that’s creepy.24 Almost every discussion of facial recognition software ends with “creepy.”25 In one of his all-too-quotable quotes, Google’s Eric Schmidt says the company’s “policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”26 That itself was called creepy. When I hear “creepy,” I’ve taken to stopping the conversation and asking the person who uses it to define the word, the context, and the harm. Shrugs ensue. “I don’t know. I just don’t like it. It’s . . . ​it’s creepy.” It is an emotional response to the unknown, to what could happen. Though we’ve seen that privacy is often about feelings and fears, emotion alone is not the proper basis for regulation of new technologies and industries and speech.
If businesses knew what "creepy" was, they would surely steer clear of privacy snafus and consumer backlash.
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+Matt S. And the real world welcomes you with open and "Watchful" arms. I totally agree with your statement Matt S.!
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Jeff Jarvis

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You will never find a finer example of a certain German business model popular in the internet age than in an open letter to Google’s Eric Schmidt written by Mathias Döpfner, head of the conservative German publishing giant Axel Springer. (English translation courtesy of the all-seeing, all-powerful Google at a link below.)

The essence of that business model, as practiced especially by German and sometimes French legacy publishers, is to stomp their feet like pouty kindergartners missing a turn at kickball, whining “that’s not fair” and yelling that everything wrong on this playground is the fault of another kid, then running to hide behind the skirt of the teacher. That is what Döpfner does here, demonizing Google (and Mark Zuckerberg while he’s at it) for numerous perceived sins I’ll explore below and — here’s the real agenda — demanding that the European Commission rescue the dinosaurs (his word) with regulation.

What a humiliating moment it must be for a powerful businessman to admit that he cannot compete in the marketplace. The entire letter struck me as an act of economic self-castration. It must also hurt for the head of a bastion of political conservatism in Germany — the publisher of the newspaper Bild, a Fox-News-with-boobs, and the leader of the company that constructed its headquarters ass-on the Berlin Wall just to extend a middle finger to the communists across it — to now beg government (the EU at that) for regulation. You’d think Döpfner lived in San Francisco and was a dancer in clown suit blocking Google buses. This is a call for big-government interference in the market we wouldn’t see even from the Guardian or The New York Times.

There’s history here. Döpfner and Springer led a fight by German publishers to stop Google from, in their view, stealing snippets of their articles on Google News — even though, as Eric Schmidt likes to point out, Google sends 10 billion vists to publishers every month. Here, too, the big boys of publishing ran to hide behind the skirts of government, getting a law called the Leistungschutzrecht passed. That seemed like victory until all the publishers went ahead and allowed Google to quote and link to them because, to paraphrase Woody Allen, they needed the eggs. Insert pouty foot-stomping here.

In the meantime, the antitrust forces of the European Commission investigated Google and negotiated an agreement. But this doesn’t go far enough for Döpfner. And, besides, a defanged, pacified, regulated, cooperative Google is no fun if you want to kick up dust on the playground and blame someone else for all your woes. Young Döpfner needs Google to be a big, bad bully.

So in his letter, Döpfner pulls out every last stop to demonize Google. He compares Google with the Mafia, complaining that the EC’s agreement with Google — stipulating the ability of competitors to buy ads on Google — smacks of “protection money.” (Would Springer’s Bild take ads from its competitors?) But that’s nothing. Döpfner says Mark Zuckerberg views on privacy could come from the head of the Stasi (I find this trivialization of an evil regime offensive); he says Google “sits on the entire privacy of mankind like the giant Fafner in the Ring of the Nibelung;” and then, giving up is last shred of subtlety, invokes Orwell. “Forget Big Brother,” Döpfner squeals, “Google is better!”

Döpfner complains about Google’s search-engine market share, not mentioning that German users — last I knew — gave Google its second-highest penetration in the world, and he also makes its success in creating great services in video, email, and mobile sound ominous. He complains about Google’s self-driving cars competing with Volkswagen and about Google buying Nest and entering our homes. 

But Döpfner goes much farther in his effort to portray Google as a dark specter overtaking Europe when he frets about Google buying drone companies and allegedly planning huge ships and floating offices operating in stateless waters and wonders whether it will create a superstate floating free of laws. “One needn’t be a conspiracy theorist,” he says, “to find this disturbing.”

Then Döpfner makes a series of recommendations that I am confident he knows are absurd, for I know Döpfner and he is as very smart man. He asks that Google reveal the quantitative criteria behinds its search algorithm, though, of course, that would only enable every spammer on earth to game Google, making it worthless as as service. He asks Google to not store IP addresses and to delete cookies after every session, making targeted advertising impossible and also making Google and its advertising business worthless. He complains about Google and other companies — singling out Jawbone — collecting and using behavioral data to support free services, concluding that “it is better and cheaper to pay with something old-fashioned: simply with money.”

Aha. That is — or was — Springer’s business model until it failed at newspapers and sold most of them, except Bild and its ever-struggling Welt — buying digital enterprises to replace them. Döpfner would like to force the world into his model: People used to buy our content with money so they must continue. To invent new models, well, that’s just not fair, is it? Anything else should be stomped out by government protecting the incumbents. There’s his real agenda.

I find this more tragic than comic. Just as Germany is moving past its reputation for being skittish with entrepreneurial risk and failure, just as it is giving up its bad habit of copycatting American internet startups rather than inventing their own, and just as Berlin’s start-up scene — very near Springer’s headquarters in what used to be the East — is coming into its own as a real creative, technical, and entrepreneurial powerhouse, here comes a titan of old industry making his nation appear technophobic, uncompetitive, and even slightly anticapitalistic.

I don’t think Döpfner believes most of what he wrote, just as Springer and its fellow travelers really didn’t believe in their Leistungschutzrecht. I heard publishers there say that they pushed for the law just so they could strengthen their negotiating position with Google. Too bad for them it didn’t work. So now Döpfner continues to play, thinking that by bullying Google in the press and with government, he can get a pity turn at kickball. But he should beware the unintended consequences of his game, affecting the reputation of Germany as a source of technological and industrial innovation and inviting greater government regulation and interference in markets.

I am surprised you fear Google, Mathias. I thought you were stronger than that.

[Disclosures: Axel Springer flew me a few years ago to speak at its managers' retreat in Tuscany and I've also been engaged to speak at its headquarters. Google is flying me to its headquarters -- with no other fee -- in two weeks to speak to its privacy group. I own Google stock. I have always found Döpfner and the editor of Bild, Kai Diekmann, to be charming and smart and I've said much of what I just said here to them over wine.]

Google translation of Döpfner's open letter:
16.04.2014  ·  Zum ersten Mal bekennt hier ein deutscher Manager die totale Abhängigkeit seines Unternehmens von Google. Was heute die Verlage erleben, ist ein Vorbote: Bald gehören wir alle Google. Ein Offener Brief an Eric Schmidt.
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Jeff Jarvis

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A big loss for Google. +Vic Gundotra has certainly made his  mark in innovation and management. Here's to whatever he does next. 
And Then

Last month, my wife's uncle died in a tragic accident in LA when the bicycle he was using to get lunch was hit by a truck. At the memorial service his daughter relayed a very touching story. 

She said her dad (who was her best friend) called every day to talk. But instead of opening the call with the customary "How are you" or "What's going on", her dad always opened the conversation with "And then?" Her father viewed each conversation as a continuation of the last, and what pained her the most was that there were to be no more "and thens". I cried. 

Since then I've thought a lot about how similar this is to our life's endeavors. We pour our heart and soul into our work and it becomes something we love and cherish. But even the challenges we work on today will one day become "and thens" as we move on to the next. 

Today I'm announcing my departure from Google after almost 8 years.

I have been incredibly fortunate to work with the amazing people of Google. I don't believe there is a more talented and passionate collection of people anywhere else. And I'm overwhelmed when I think about the leadership of +Larry Page and what he empowered me to do while at Google. From starting Google I/O, to being responsible for all mobile applications, to creating Google+, none of this would have happened without Larry's encouragement and support.

I'm also forever in debt to the Google+ team. This is a group of people who built social at Google against the skepticism of so many. The growth of active users is staggering, and speaks to the work of this team. But it doesn't tell you what kind of people they are. They are invincible dreamers. I love them. And I will miss them dearly.

Finally, thank you to all those who I've met on Google+. The community here has been so supportive that I don't even know how to say thank you. You all make Google+. Without you, this social network wouldn't exist. Your support for Google+, and for me personally is something I will never forget. 

But, now is the time for a new journey. A continuation. An "and then". I am excited about what's next. But this isn't the day to talk about that. This is a day to celebrate the past 8 years. To cry. And smile. And to look forward to the journey yet to come.

And then....
+Vic Gundotra 

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Many many, "And Then's" for you and yours. We will miss you, but your making a heartfelt choice, Fair Winds, And Following Seas. +Vic Gundotra
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I've been looking forward to this...
One of my Favorite shows!  Second season starts on BBC America tonight.  You can get Season 1 on Google Play.  (
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+Adrian Robinson I agree with you on seasons 1&2 of Continuum. But the present season's time travel plot is getting too complex. I still watch for now. 
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Jeff Jarvis

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I do believe that's the head of Axel Springer, Mathias Döpfner, leading the band on the publishing Titanic after it hits iceberg Google. With him is Bild editor in chief +Kai Diekmann.
Wozu groß bloggen, wenn man die Medienwoche doch auch in einer kleinen Zeichnung zusammenfassen kann? ;-)

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+John Blossom have you read the piece? I have. While some of the pronouncements were a bit over the top/whiny, there were also real valid issues raised, that Google will try to gloss over at their peril.
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Jeff Jarvis

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Does Biden have a Samsung deal?
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Yeah Shane it's a real pity they enjoy life.
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Jeff Jarvis

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This is the mobile cell-phone holder I mentioned on This Week in Google today: 
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Even with the clip on the louvers? I have 5 vehicles, all use the exterior louvers to shut off airflow, they would not close with this mounted to the louvers. What model car do you have +Jim Tupper I'm just curious.
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Journalism professor, blogger, writer
  • CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
    Journalism professor, blogger, writer, present
  • Advance Publications
  • New York Daily News
  • TV Guide
  • Entertainment Weekly
  • People magazine
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  • Chicago Tribune
  • Chicago Today
Basic Information
Author of "Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live" and "What Would Google Do?" Director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. Blogs at and writes for the Guardian. Formerly creator and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly; president and creative director of; Sunday editor and associate publisher of the NY Daily News; columnist on the San Francisco Examiner. 
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