A Google Loop

Google is building an empire. It may not be an evil empire, but it is an empire none the less. Google has tremendous services and is slowly evolving from a search technology, to a provider of data. This data is coming in maps, answers, blog content, and whatever else they announced today. Sooner or later, they are going to weld all of their services together. This blog entry is an observation of one of those possible Google solutions, or what I'll call, a Google Loop.

My Google Loop involves digital photos. I love my digital camera. I love that I can shoot as many images as I have MBs and battery to allow. I love that I can make backups of those photos. I love that I can edit those photos easily. I love that I don't have to pay for developing costs. I love that my ReplayTV will use them as a screensaver.

As great as all of those things are, we haven't even scratched the surface of what we can do with these digital photos. For one, I can't wait to get a Mac so I can play with the photo books in iPhoto. But, that's still just a pretty presentation of the pictures. We need to go beyond looking at the pictures and add further context to them. Where were they taken? When were they taken? How are they different from photos that other people took at that same place, but perhaps at a different time?

They key to all of this is metadata. Without metadata, the picture's true value could be locked in the heads of the people who were there.

1. We'll start our Google Loop by importing some pictures we took at Yellowstone Nation Park in to Picasa. Now ideally, the picture already contains GPS location data inserted by the camera, but those cameras are still rare, so let's say that Picasa allows us to assign location data to that picture.

2. I never have enough disk space, and Google is nice enough to give me 2 gigs and counting in Gmail. Let's say that Google lets me use that Gmail disk to save Picasa pictures. Thanks Google!

3. I have a blog (duh, you are reading it) and on occasion, I'll put up a picture. I'm lucky enough to have server space to host those images, but most people don't. Let's say that Google allows me to link in to those saved images in my Gmail disk. Thanks Google, you're the greatest!

4. I blog about my great vacation to Yellowstone. Pictures are included and, what's this? You can click my pictures and pull up a Google Map or satellite data of the location? Very nice. Hey look, there are even "pinned" locations on the satellite view that are clickable to see my other pictures. The world is good.

5. AdSense does it's thing to the right of my blog. I see that there are tour packages available for Yellowstone. Hmmm, I'll have to check those out next time, and maybe even stay in "super-duper-fantastic hotel" that says they will give me a great rate. My friends read my blog and think Yellowstone looks like a cool place. They make use of the AdSense and book a trip. Now sure, this is possible today with AdSense, but the only reason they stuck around was all of the cool photos that I was able to host for free and nifty maps that let them do a little armchair exploring of their own.

6. OG (that's original Google) makes note of all of this and returns search results of my blog and my images when people are looking for Yellowstone.

7. Desktop search is right there too. From my Google deskbar, I type Yellowstone when I want to be reminded of that great trip and Google Desktop gives me my original images, my blog entry, and the same maps that I was able to show other people. Google, I love you.

What do I get from this Google Loop?

* Incredible usability of my pictures
* Internet hosted storege for sharing my pictures
* A one company, integrated solution
* Related information that I might find useful

What does Google get?

* A happy customer
* User profile data on me that they can use to sell me things
* Chance to serve ads to me in GMail, Google Maps, and Google Desktop
* My images in their Google Images cache which lets them show ads to others

Certainly Google isn't the only one capable of this sort of thing. Apple has a huge buzz going around Spotlight right now. I'm eager to make use of it too.

I'm really surprised that Apple isn't doing something like this. They have iPhoto and .Mac for image hosting. Add in Spotlight and things are starting to cook. What they don't have over Google is blogging, map data, and a way for them and I to make extra money just for using all of this software. Maybe that's good though. Apple gets to sell me hardware and software and I don't have to deal with ads anywhere.

In closing, this is just one loop. I'm sure you can think of others, and I'm sure you could access these services in a different loop order. That's the power of cooperative services and metadata.


Jason said...

Dude, now Microsoft is gonna read your blog and steal the whole damn thing. It'll be the MSN MyPhotos package, using MSN search, their new MySpace blog feature, storage stolen from Hotmail, and some slick API built into Longhorn.

Ok, stupid troll aside, this is a great idea. I don't care if MSoft, Google, or Apple do it first. I want to use it.

-- I said...

Yellowstone looks like a cool place!