Monday, March 22, 2010

Google Fest: Can This Be What It's All About?

We interrupt this program to bring you an update on the Google Fiber Initiative. If you haven't heard, Google is planning to invest tens of millions of dollars into a small to medium sized city for the purpose of installing ultra high speed fiber, putting this particular city on the cutting edge of what is possible in terms of the future.

Forward thinking leaders in a few of the candidate cities have been working their tails off to be chosen, using everything in their power to be the next BMOC or Homecoming Queen or Student Council President. The high school metaphors are appropriate because some of what we're doing is text book silli-Ness... plunging into Lake Superior mid-winter, making goofy YouTube Videos, a Hollywood caliber film, and even a little straight up pleading. "Vote for Duluth!"

So what's it all about? I mean, from Google's side of the equation, what are they up to? These are smart people. They're surely not just throwing mountains of cash at some Midwest city simply in a charitable gesture to be nice.

The article Google Aims at the TV market – Will they Succeed? Yes, and Here’s why by Richard Kastelein just might give a clue. Anyone who has been half listening knows that for fifteen years early pioneers of the Net experience have spoken of a day when there would be a convergence of technologies, television and Internet would become one. Scoffers were abundant. Who would want to watch television on a laptop? Factor in the slow download speeds of high rez video and you have an experience very dissimilar to plopping onto a couch with friends to watch the game.

But what if.... As Kastelein points out, nothing stays the same forever, and Google knows this.

What is the goal? Google as media mogul? Think it through, what makes Google such a power? There stats, analytics and the fact that advertisers can reach their targets with precision. The target is often looking for the very things the advertisers are seeking to bring. It's a perfect marriage of consumer and marketer, with Google the minister leading the ceremony.

Now to Google Fest... Google Duluth could be the proving ground of this new concept of convergence. Don't kid yourself. Mainstream media still has the power to reach masses unlike anything that ever came before. (You might cite the power of the newspapers in their heyday, but back then a large part of the audience was still illiterate.) But unlike the networks, Google has the power to accurately measure how many eyeballs saw your logo, and even better, how many clicked through to your online store.

Hey, something big is happening here. More bandwidth, please!
Pictured here are scenes from Saturday's Duluth Google Fest. Top left, Mayor Ness backstage awaiting his address to the crowds gathered in the Ballroom.

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