Friday, February 3, 2012

GOOG-HELL

I don’t like to rant. These days counting to ten and taking a deep breath seems to me a better way of dealing with difficulty. But today I’m giving myself license. David is going to take his slingshot and a very, very small pea and launch one against Goliath Google, Amazon, Apple, anyone you can name who has our digital futures in the palm of their hands. Because I suspect, Cap’m Butler, that they don’t give a damn.

photograph: Daria
It started off innocently enough. Blogger changed my domain name from a dot. com to a dot.com.au. They didn’t ask me if that was all right. They didn’t tell me why they were doing it. They just did it. Because, you see, they can.

Of course, now I can’t get an Alexa ranking on my site for the US, even though it is very important to me. Still, minor irritation. Demands no more than a little muttering under the breath over morning coffee.

me not over-reacting
 
But then all my comments disappeared. On all my posts. I know I’m getting them, they are piling up in my email tray, but I can’t answer them on the blog, because they are gone. Now I’ve worked really hard to encourage people to write in and comment, as most bloggers do. I really enjoy the comments, the discussions and ideas that are knocked around. It's why I got this outside widget thingo a few weeks ago, (sorry for all that technical jargon), called Intense Debate. I felt it would provide a better commenting system as well as track back to commenter’s blogs, so people could also follow each other.

But now someone has just casually screwed it all up.


I didn’t like Blogger’s useless comments system - so I don’t think they care that I can't use an import. It may not be Google's fault; but there's no way of finding out. There’s no help desk at Blogger, just a forum for other poor benighted souls like me, (just like at Facebook!) lost spirits wandering about in Cyber-Limbo looking for the light. For example:'graembyburgh' posted this:

Since my blog's URL changed to .au, many hundreds of images on my older posts (2006 and before) are no longer showing.  The images just show as red crosses.  
I'm devastated.  My blog is my most treasured possession.  

You can imagine, right? Like losing all your photograph albums. And no one to help him. There’s other messages like this: ‘My blog is gone.’ Another: ‘My blog has been deleted and I don’t know why.’ What if that was you?

It occurred to me then that we are all living in a false utopia. We think we’re liberated, but we’re not. Our blogs, our eBooks, our precious contacts all around the world are at the mercy of some arbitrary faceless executive who can strike out all that effort at any time. Amazon could cut royalty rates from 70 to 10% overnight and then where is this new eBook revolution? Blogger can decide they don’t like us and strike our blog. There’s no one you can turn to, no customer relations department, no court of arbitration.

The internet is not a democracy. It is (so far) a benign dictatorship. But for how long will it remain benign?

photograph: Kahsfi Halford

 There’s many blogs out there talking about how we must all strive to produce value for the new consumer in the digital age, connect, care about our product and the service we provide. Yay that. Now we're talking.

Except.

Except the very biggest companies don’t necessarily strive to do that. You can tell, because their back-up service is a public help forum.  

Maybe my problem is with my Intense Debate widget. I really, really hope so, because they have a support desk. But whatever the reason for this little glitch, it’s taught me that this brave new world is a very scary place.

photograph: CoolCaesar

But for all those of you who have posted comments - I assure you, they mean a lot to me, every one of them. If I can’t get the problem fixed before Sunday I’ll post them all manually in my blog and reply to each one of them that way.

So please keep commenting - because even if I can’t see them on the blog, I get them in my email and I will make sure they are posted.  

Why? 

Because my name’s not Google, that’s why.