Open Communications – When Google was Good

Came across the following article today. It was written in 2005:

Open Communications
Google’s mission is to make the world’s information universally accessible and useful. Google Talk, which enables users to instantly communicate with friends, family, and colleagues via voice calls and instant messaging, reflects our belief that communications should be accessible and useful as well.
Open Communications – Google Talk for Developers — Google Developers.

This was a great time for open communications on the Internet. It marked the beginning of interoperable, standards-based protocols for chat, voice and presence. The possibility of an end to the many isolated islands of Instant Messaging by embracing true open standards. All it would take was patience and courage.

A previous event of the same impact happened in the early 90’s when SMTP was accepted as the standard protocol for email, finally allowing users of disparate systems to actually send an email to one another regardless of their provider. It made email universal, and the Internet useful, and much of its success today stems from this event.

Google adopting and promoting XMPP as its messaging protocol meant that we had a true champion of open standards. One who was not afraid of interoperability and choice. It opened up a world of possibilities to push communications to the next level.

Closed Communications
Unfortunately, here we are in 2013 and Google has chosen to turn its back on it roots, as well as its motto, and has abused the trust it has been given by its many users.

Google has performed a classic bait-and-switch, abandoning XMPP, and turning its once open Talk platform into a walled garden, proprietary Getto Hangout.

We appear to be entering a Dark Age with regard to the Internet as a Communication medium. We seem to be returning to a world of self-contained islands where you may only communicate with other inhabitants of that island. This is bad for everybody.

I have no doubt that open standards will eventually win out – as it did with email – but this single act by Google has probably done more harm to the true Internet than any other.


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