Way back in late October, Google"Plus" offered me a custom URL using a name rather than their CompuServe-esque number. As it followed their preferences rather than my preferences, I quite naturally rejected it. A bit to my surprise I was offered a chance to request a "custom" URL instead. This hinted of some progress. The hint was a lie. The hint was as much progress as anything "progressive" which is to say, none at all, if even that much. So my earlier post About to see if Google+ is wising up. was answered thus:
"We were not able to approve your request for this custom URL: google.com/+Vakkotaur"
That is nonsense. There is no inability, there is only unwillingness. There is no clear, obvious technical reason this cannot be done. There is most likely no technical reason at all, just Google's "We know what's best for you." (and by "you" they really mean "Google") inertia. What galls me is not merely being told no. I rather expected that. It's the stupid claim that they were "unable" as it if would violate the Laws of Thermodynamics. Being told it didn't fit with their (rather silly) policy would at least have been honest.
Years ago there were many search engines and it seems they all wanted to become the central starting point be-and-do-everything home page for everyone and they turned themselves into ever more cluttered portals. Then an upstart came along with a breathtakingly clean bare-bones interface. It was a search engine. It didn't try to be everything to everyone. It had a wonderful slogan, "Don't be evil." Yes, it was Google.
Today Google's search engine page is still mostly clutter-free, but there are a few links that really do not need to be there. These links are the modern portal to their "social media" thing. This is a free service - and as is said "If the service is free, YOU are the product." So, it's a data mine. Ore gets no choice in whether or how it is mined - or named.
I don't expect it soon, but with ever more intrusions or perceived intrusions of data, metadata, etc. and the NSA bit (This was news? Come on.) I expect eventually some party will come along with more user-choice in matters in mind and perhaps even have a slogan, "Don't be Google." This might need to happen a few times before one gets traction and really takes hold, but then Google will join the list of once-huge companies with a seemingly unstoppable presence suddenly reeling as it desperately tries to remain relevant. Not soon, most likely. But not soon enough, either. If we're lucky, a couple kids in a garage somewhere are cobbling together a couple ideas...