All the excitement of a Dan Brown bestseller, but real. The hot new obsession for the technology geek in the know is trying to figure out what Google is up to. While conspiracy theorists spend years weaving dire tales from the fewest of crumbs, the Google devout can feast upon an absolute smorgasbord of Google activity, with new surprises occurring almost every day. Netizens are on a cyberspace-trotting hunt for information, including a self-described “Google Addict”, columnists, technology news sites, an ebook author, and the multitudes of social bookmarking “diggers” at Digg.com. Here is the partial list of Google’s activities, including:
- searching for and buying up untold miles of dark fiber optics, left over from the Internet bubble burst five years ago;
- the opening of Google WiFi spots in San Francisco and the release of Google Secure Access to “ensure your connection is secure.”
- hiring Internet pioneer, Vint Cerf;
- new media-specific search engines, including Google Video, Google Blog Search, and Google Scholar;
- releasing the first episode of the new Chris Rock UPN sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris” on Google Video;
- the purchase of domain names related to television and high definition television;
- providing over 2.5 gigabytes of free storage in their email service Gmail;
- the development of free software like Google Earth, Google Desktop, Google Talk, and Picasa (3-D Earth map, local desktop searching, VoIP and instant messaging, and image management, respectively);
- raising over US$4,000,000,000 in cash from a recent stock sale;
- and, most recently, inviting 400 bloggers and reporters to an event called Google Zeitgeist 05, on the proviso that they all keep their mouths shut about what they hear.
Is Google about to unveil a free, advertisement-supported nationwide wireless network? Are they building a supercomputer with a centralized Google operating system, accessible by anyone with an Internet connection? Are they expanding their efforts in China? Are they backing the long-fabled “Internet over power lines” technology? All of the above?
Is there a pattern to all of this activity? Cybersleuths are hot on the trail, but Google just might surprise everyone with what they actually have in mind. What would you do with a mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” billions of dollars in cash, several top scientists and engineers, and a loyal and creative employee base in an era that is seeing the most rapid acceleration of progress in human history?