Sunday, July 07, 2013

Google Science

At Google Science, we do what we must because we can.

What does Google have in common with Aperture Science? Bear with me here, I'm not talking about this part of Aperture:

Okay, actually, I am. Ignoring the hideously malformed ethics of what was actually common among ... well, let's not go into it, but let's just say that once upon a time some people thought it was okay to inject other people with syphilis, and then watch them and their families slowly die. For science!

But that's not what I want to accuse Google of. They've not been perfect, but it seems that Google actually does want to live up to the company motto of "Don't Be Evil."

So instead I want to associate Google with the following, clearly related, but without the outright corporate villainy:

I'll be honest, we're just throwing science at a wall here to see what sticks; no idea what it'll do. Probably nothing. Best case scenario: you might get some super powers.

I think this is Google's actual strategy in a lot of cases. Just come up with something and throw it out there, let the world play with it and come up with things to do, ways to use it, ways to break it. This is explicitly what they're doing with Google Glass. They've developed the functionality, and now they've thrown it out there to let people come up with uses and apps. After all, there are a few thousand people at Google, but there are billions of people in the world. They'll play with it and come up with stuff Google never could've.

They're doing the same thing, I think, with Google+. They've rolled out a new social tool and they're letting people use it while they experiment with it, find out what works and what doesn't, what people love and hate, and so on. It's a bit rough on the users (there are some things about it I despise; that frickin' header...), but constantly tinkering with it means that it can evolve rapidly and respond to the users in a way that facebook simply doesn't. That sort of thing, when implemented well, can make the best sort of stuff. In the end... that's science. Or at least, that's a critical component of science.

Peer review is the social network/crowdsourcing of science. You put your ideas out in public and the public beats the everlovin' crap out of them. The end result is that only good ideas thrive. Everything else falls by the wayside. In the last few centuries, science has climbed from height to height; let's see how this works for Aperture Google.
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