Home A Letter to Google’s David Girouard: 100% Web is Not Such a Great Idea

A Letter to Google’s David Girouard: 100% Web is Not Such a Great Idea

Dear Mr. David Girouard,

I decided to write you a quick note after reading your post about 2011 as the year there will be nothing but the Web. I am not so sure that is a great idea.

I’ll give you a few reasons: WikiLeaks, Delicious and YouTube.


Well, we know the sad history and precedent caused by Amazon Web Services dropping Wikileaks. Amazon did not show much thought for due process. Instead, AWS shut down WikiLeaks citing its terms of service. That should be a concern to any business when considering using a cloud service. We can’t trust the Web 100% if there is that threat of closure without any way to appeal.


How many people do you know who lament today’s announcement by Yahoo! that it is closing Delicious? The service it provided had many a bit confused when it launched. Technologists scratched their heads. Tags? What do they do?

People still adopted the service and became passionate about its applications. Millions of people provided a wealth of links that companies used to create tools and processes. Now Delicious is going away. That’s the nature of Web services. But if you use the Web as a place to store information then it kind of hurts when a service closes. The outcome can be disastrous. Big Web companies like Google do not do a good job of providing ways to export data. Sometimes it makes sense to avoid services that don’t export well. Google’s own Vint Cerf touched on the issue when he spoke last winter about the lack of standards in the cloud. It needs to get better.


This is a tough one. The YouTube service rocks. Yet you have a community guidelines policy that is causing serious disruptions to companies that rely on YouTube for income. We talked to Christian Cantrella a few weeks ago who said that YouTube shut his company’s account for weeks. The company does reviews about watches. What could be so objectionable? He had to blog about it to get some attention to the matter. Ironically, I was on the phone with Chris when YouTube restored the company’s account. That does not reflect well on Google, YouTube or other services that people and small businesses rely upon.

Looking to 2011

I hope you know that I love Google’s services. I used your service while writing this letter. Your team at Google Apps has done incredible work. The people at your company are a fantastic community. They are recognized all over the world for their brilliance. Like other large Web companies business issues seem to be clouding judgement. That can cause issues with communities.

I agree that 2010 is the year of the cloud. I am not so sure 2011 should be the year we see nothing but the Web. I think of that especially after reading an interview with someone like Chris Anderson. I’m thinking it should be the year about everything and the Web.

Let me know what you think.

Feel free to ping me anytime.

Thanks. Alex.

Alex Williams

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