Regarding my prior post on G+ and real names - - here's a transcript of what Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in the Q&A at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International TV Festival, so you can see his direct words rather than my paraphrasing of it:

Q: Can we talk about social media for a while? Last night you admitted again that
Google was slow on social media. Why was that, why didn’t you get it as an organisation?

Well, I think the defensive answer would be to say we got a lot of other things right.
When I look back at my decade as CEO, there are many many things I’m very proud of.

In the area of social media, we knew upfront 10 years ago that the Internet lacked
essentially an accurate identity service. I’m not here by the way talking about
Facebook, the media gets confused when I talk about this. If you think about it,
the Internet would be better if we had an accurate notion that you were a real
person as opposed to a dog, or a fake person, or a spammer or what have

And the notion of strong identity was never invented in the Internet. Many people
worked on it - I worked on it as a scientist 20 years ago, and it’s a hard
problem. So if we knew that it was a real person, then we could sort of hold
them accountable, we could check them, we could give them things, we could you
know bill them, you know we could have credit cards and so forth and so on,
there are all sorts of reasons.

And the Internet did not develop this in many ways because the Internet came out of
universities where the issue of authentication wasn’t such a big issue.
Everybody trusted everybody, you didn’t have these kinds of

But my general rule is people have a lot of free time and people on the Internet,
there are people who do really really evil and wrong things on the Internet, and
it would be useful if we had strong identity so we could weed them out. I’m not
suggesting eliminating them, what I’m suggesting is if we knew their identity
was accurate, we could rank them. Think of them like an identity

So we’ve had all those conversations at Google but the real mechanism that helped
this was the technology that was invented first by MySpace and then eventually
by Facebook, where you could disambiguate names by looking at people. So if you
have John Smith, they show you there’s five John Smiths, well here’s a John
Smith and then based on the pictures, you say this is the John Smith who’s my
friend. And that’s how identity is in fact managed in Facebook.

We were very, very slow to figure this out in my view, and I’ll take the criticism
as the leader.

So the solution of course that we’ve come up with is called Google+, which is in
essentially early beta, and it looks like it’s doing very well so far. It
essentially provides an identity service with a link structure around your
friends, similar to what I just described.

When we’ve got that, we can improve our products. So for example if you and I are
friends, and - with your permission, this is very important - we can have
slightly better search results if I know a little bit about who you

What about YouTube recommendations? We have this Leanback model where we suggest YouTube videos that you should just watch one after the other. Well if I know the ones that you like, and again with your permission, I can merge that as a
signal in, and get a better result.

So it’s central for Google to have such a service, and that’s what we’re trying to

Q: One of the early controversies around Google+ is you not allowing people to use
nicknames. Andy Carvin, who’s over from NPR actually at the festival, is asking
on Twitter: “How does Google justify its real names only policy on Google+ when
it could put some people at grave risk?”.

Well, the first comment is that Google+ is completely optional. In fact, many many
people want to get in, if you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to.

Q: But you wouldn’t use it in Iran or Syria would you?

Well Iran and Syria are - let’s come back to that because that’s a more complicated
question. But in the Western world, what we decided to do was to take the
position that we wanted people to be willing to be at least identified by some
sort of a real name. And the reason had to do with this identity point I was
making earlier.

So that’s the genesis of this real name - and I should say, by the way, that this
real names debate goes on and on and on. But we want people to stand for
something, we want people to be willing to express themselves. There are
obviously people for which using their real name is not appropriate, and it’s
completely optional, and if you’re one of those people don’t do it. Seems

In the case of countries like Iran and Syria, and in fact I’m working on a book on
this so I’ve looked at this pretty thoroughly, it’s a whole different ball of
wax. There, there’s no assumption of privacy, everyone assumes that the Internet
is bugged and that the secret police are after them. So their sensibilities are
extremely different.
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