Mega Millions Math: Probability of No Jackpot Winner
You would like to figure out the approximate probability that there are no jackpot winners for the Mega Millions. On March 27, 2012 4,715,569 tickets from the total pool of tickets were winners. Approximately 1 out of 40 randomly chosen tickets are winners. Therefore we can approximate that 40 * 4,715,569 = 188,622,760 total tickets were sold.
But wait, you have a 1 in 175,711,536 chance of hitting the jackpot. Approximately 188,622,760 were sold. So does that mean there’s a 100% chance of one of those tickets being the jackpot winner? No, simply because some tickets have the same numbers which increases the total ticket pool.
What is the probability that no one hit the Mega Millions jackpot last night? You have to know a little about Bernouilli trials. A Bernouilli trial is an experiment whose outcome is random and can be either of two possible outcomes, “success” and “failure”. So in our case “success” is winning the jackpot, “failure” is not winning the jackpot.
Say a gambler plays a slot machine that pays out with a probability of one in n and plays it n times. Then, for large n the probability that the gambler will lose every bet is approximately 1/e or about 37%. This is a Bernoulli trials process and you can approximate probabilities with respect to this process using the constant e.
We can apply this situation to Mega Millions. The Mega Millions is sort of like a slot machine that pays out the jackpot with a probability of 1/175,711,536. So according to our experiment, if you play 175,711,536 tickets there’s still a 37% chance that there would be no winner!
It’s not intuitive but the math is there and you can’t argue against it. Because it’s math.
Last night there were 188,622,760 tickets played. Use e again to approximate the probability of no jackpot. The Mega Millions went through a period where there was an expectation of 1.0735 jackpot winners (188,622,760/175,711,536 = 1.0735). The approximate probability that there were no jackpots in 1.0735 “cycles” is e^(-1.0735) or approximately 34%.
Cliffs: -Lotteries and games of chance are usually not intuitive. -The probability that there would be no jackpot winner last night is 34%. Consequently, the probability that there should’ve been AT LEAST ONE jackpot winner is 66%. Think about how I came up with that number. -The mathematical constant e is awesome. -They carded me last night when I tried to buy Quick Picks.
By COLUM McCANN NY Times Published: March 30, 2012
IT was long before baseball ever enchanted me, and long before I ever knew anything of the Yankees, and long before I learned that a pitch could swerve, yet it came back to me, years later, sitting in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, a curveball from the past.
It was 1975. I was 10 years old. I stood onboard a ferry in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. I was traveling with my father to England for the weekend. We crossed the Irish Sea, the night blanket-black above us. On deck, men in flat caps worked hard at their coughs.
In Liverpool, dawn rose in increments of gray. We boarded a train for London. I had to hush. We were Irish after all. There were bombs going off in Britain in those days. The train swerved through a landscape that seemed exotic and familiar by turns. London, then, was a confusion of red post boxes, terraced houses and chimneystacks.
We made our way out to Highbury, where my favorite team, Stoke City, was playing against Arsenal. Portions of the game still decorate my memory with splinters of despair and joy — my team drew, 1-1 — but it is not the game that later made sense to me.
On the way out of Highbury, my father and I bought a bottle of Powers whiskey. He seldom drank, my father, and the purchase surprised me. We stopped, then, to buy a carton of cigarettes and I knew that the world was shifting somehow: my father never smoked.
“How’d you like to see your grandfather?” he asked.
I had never met my grandfather Jack McCann. He was, I knew, a character — a man given to the Irish trinity of drink and song and exile.
We took a bus to Pimlico Road, tramped up the wide staircase of a decrepit nursing home. My father handed me the bottle of whiskey. “Go on in and give that to your grandda,” he said.
A shadow in the bed. He glanced up and said, “Ah, another bleedin’ McCann.” But he perked up when he saw the bottle, reached out and tousled my hair.
He was a fabulous ruin, my grandfather. I sat on the bed beside him and — suddenly glamorous with whiskey — he told his stories. The greyhounds. The horses. The days with Big Jack Doyle. I sat in my red and white Stoke City shirt, stunned that this was a history that could belong to me.
What I recall is my father lifting me onto his shoulders, late that night, into a foreign city, toward the railway station, and home. A number of stray soccer fans were still singing under the station’s eaves.
Down, 3-1. Bottom of the ninth. One on. Nobody out. The Yankees against the Minnesota Twins. Game 2 of the American League Division Series, October 2009. A-Rod is at the plate. The air has that chewy sense of hope. There is always call for a miracle.
“It’s gonna happen, Dad.”
This is what baseball can do to the soul: it has the ability to make you believe in spite of all other available evidence. My son, John Michael, is 10 years old. We are in the bleachers. He leans in to me and says that the pitch is going to come in high and fat. It’s still a new language to me. The pitch is thrown, and indeed it does — it comes in high and fat, and 94 miles per hour. A-Rod leans into it like he’s about to fell a tree and smacks the ball and it soars, that little sphere of cowhide rising up over the Bronx, and it is a moment unlike any other, when you sit with your son in the ballpark, and the ball is high in the air, you feel yourself aware of everything, the night, the neon, the very American-ness of the moment.
And then it strikes you that the ball has an endless quality of fatherhood to it.
We all know these moments. They don’t come along very often, but when they do they open up your lungs to the bursting point. It’s not simply me sitting with my son in the Bronx, but it’s my father sitting with me in London, too, and maybe him with his own father in Dublin, and it all comes back to me, the pure and reckless joy of the past, Arsenal, Stoke City, the dark corners of a nursing home, the slippery deck of a ferry boat and how every moment is carried into other moments.
I stood in the bleachers as A-Rod rounded the bases with that slightly nonchalant grin: a Dominican kid born in Washington Heights had just brought me home.
Baseball is often talked about as the American game, but there is something wildly immigrant about it too. No other game can so solidly confirm the fact that you are in the United States, yet bring you home to your original country at the same time.
If soccer is the world’s game, then baseball belongs to those who have left their worlds behind. This is not so much nostalgia as it a sense of saudade — a longing for something that is absent.
I have been in New York for 18 years. Every time I have gone to Yankee Stadium with my two sons and my daughter, I am somehow brought back to my boyhood. Perhaps it is because baseball is so very different from anything I grew up with.
The subway journey out. The hustlers, the bustlers, the bored cops. The jostle at the turnstiles. Up the ramps. Through the shadows. The huge swell of diamond green. The crackle. The billboards. The slight air of the unreal. The guilt when standing for another nation’s national anthem. The hot dogs. The bad beer. The catcalls. Siddown. Shaddup. Fuhgeddaboudit.
Learning baseball is learning to love what is left behind also. The world drifts away for a few hours. We can rediscover what it means to be lost. The world is full, once again, of surprise. We go back to who we were.
I slipped into America via baseball. The language intrigued me. The squeeze plays, the fungoes, the bean balls, the curveballs, the steals. The showboating. The pageantry. The lyrical cursing that unfolded across the bleachers.
As the years went on, baseball surrounded me more and more. My son began listening to the radio late at night, under the covers. There was something gloriously tribal about the Yankees for him. He learned to imitate John Sterling, the radio announcer. It is high, it is far, it is gone. An A-bomb from A-Rod. He began playing the game too, and so I would walk to Central Park with him. How far was my own father on the street behind me, juggling a soccer ball at his feet? How far was my dead grandfather?
We become the children of our children, the sons of our sons. We watch our kids as if watching ourselves. We take on the burden of their victories and defeats. It is our privilege, our curse too. We get older and younger at the same time.
I never meant to fall in love with baseball, but I did. I learned to realize that it does what all good sports should do: it creates the possibility of joy.
Sometimes, when walking home from the subway, after being at Yankee Stadium, I have the feeling that a whole country has been knocked around inside me. I am Irish, but I am also American. I am both father and son.
I cherish these moments. It confirms that life is not static. There is so much more left to be lived. There are times that my own boys are so tired that I have to put them on my shoulder and carry them. They are brought forward by the past.
I still recall the night of the A.L.D.S. game against Minnesota. A-Rod tied it up in the ninth. Teixeira closed out the game in the 11th. My son beamed, ear to ear. I think the stars over the Bronx shook that night. The potholes on 161st Street applauded. The 4 train ran on Champagne.
And me, well, I took a little journey a long way home.
“So many people ask me about it but honestly I don’t know. Shit just became a habit. But my palms do itch a lot, I swear they do. So I got tired of scratching them and just went to rubbing my hands…They itch a lot, man. So I just got tired of scratching them and just went to rubbing my hands. But it just became a habit and it’s like I’m known for the shit. I’m like “Damn, I’m doing this shit that much that people are recognizing it? But then I found myself doing it so now I’m like, Fuck it, I’m going to keep doing it…I really wanted to let them know that at the end of the day, it’s really about money. Don’t get it twisted. I’m a hard worker and everything with me is, if I work hard I should get paid for it. Everything with me, I try to symbolize something flashy like jewelry or a car. The rubbing hands is a symbol of hustling, so it goes back to the money.”—Bryan “Baby”/”Birdman”/”Stunna” Williams explains the #birdmanhandrub (via howtotalktogirlsatparties)
The blowjob has fallen on hard times. Or, to put it in the form of a crude question, who can really get it up for fellatio these days? Back in the 1960s and ’70s, fellatio was all the rage. Its curative powers are powerfully conveyed by the moment in John Updike’s Bech when the protagonist’s mistress tries “to bring his weakling member to strength by wrapping it in the velvet bandages of her lips.” Abandoning the protective modesty of fiction in the poem “Fellatio,” Updike celebrated the way “that each of these clean secretaries / at night, to please her lover, takes / a fountain into her mouth.”
When I first came across these lines, in 1972, aged fourteen, they seemed excitingly rude — if a little yucky. Now, a harmless poem can’t be expected to support a zeitgeisty theory, but something, evidently, was in the air: 1972 was the year of Deep Throat, about a woman with a clitoris in her throat, so that she achieves orgasm by performing oral sex. In retrospect, this seems like a premise dreamed up by feminists as a way of showing, in ludicrously exaggerated fashion, the underlying misogyny of male fantasies. Or maybe not so exaggerated after all. At roughly the same time, a joke made the rounds about the ideal woman being three feet tall with a flat head — so you’d have someplace to rest your beer while she gave you head. One way or another, the early ’70s were a time when the culture was bigging up the blowjob. Tellingly, Bech’s mistress was “following less her own instincts than the exemplary drift of certain contemporary novels.”
Some of this enthusiasm lived on into the late twentieth century. In 1995’s To Die For, Nicole Kidman reacts with disingenuous astonishment to the story of how a famous broadcaster got her big break because a self-penned reference commended her ability to “suck your cock till your eyes pop out!” (Shouldn’t that read “cave in” or “implode”?) In the same year, there’s a fun exchange in Martin Amis’s The Information in which a male character proposes to a lady friend that they “do 68.” What’s that? she asks. “You do me and I owe you 1,” he shoots back. Later in the novel, the humiliation of failed writer Richard Tull is complete when his wife fellates his rival, the successful Gwyn Barry.
If this all seems rather quaint, then Susan Minot’s 2002 novella, Rapture — about a single blowjob — was perhaps a last, jaw-aching hurrah. A genuinely twenty-first-century spokesman can be found in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, in the form of young Joey Berglund, whose sexual maturity — compared with the guys he’s at college with — is conveyed simply and vehemently. Their yearnings center on the blowjob, which Joey considers “little more than a glorified jerkoff.”
I recently undertook a small survey of some more mature male friends, and the results, while not unanimous, were overwhelming. To speak plainly, given the choice, eight of the ten men surveyed preferred eating pussy to having their dicks sucked. Or, to put it in entirely numerical terms, 80 percent of males would opt for a 70 rather than a 68. And what about the other two men? Yes, you guessed it: They’re gay! To be strictly accurate, the heterosexual respondents were partial to this kind of thing — but only in the mathematically blissful reciprocity of 70 minus 1. The gob-job continues to thrive in hetero pornography, of course, for the simple — literally obvious — reason that it lends itself to being filmed in a way that cunnilingus cannot.
I’m not claiming that the latter did not exist back in the 1970s, but it was regarded in much the same way as paying for a round at the bar: You had to do it, but if you could avoid it, you did. It would be a mistake, though, to see this change as meaning that men have gone from being selfish recipients to selfless givers of pleasure; it’s just that what constitutes pleasure has shifted. As the Michael Fassbender character in Shame says to a woman he’s seducing in a bar by telling her how badly he wants to go down on her (before getting beaten up by her boyfriend): “That’s what I like to do.”
The scale of the sea change can be observed at the Great Canadian Beaver-Eating Contest, at Burning Man, an event so popular that participants line up as if for a half-off sale. In the more discreet context of my survey, this enthusiasm was endorsed by the respondent who claimed that the only time he experienced “absolute contentment” was when his face was between his wife’s legs. He wished to make clear that he was not talking just about sex; he meant in life generally.
“For now, I miss the grit and grime of New York. It is real and raw, and the commotion of the city is contagious. Startup life is characterized by constant motion and tenacious tinkering, not hikes on Mt. Tam and brunch in the Mission, and the pace of life and breadth of humanity in New York is invigorating. I like to tell people: New York is like coffee. You know it’s not good for you, and you don’t really like the taste, but you just can’t get enough. The rush, the jitters, they’re addicting, as are startups.”—Why Branch Is Moving Back To New York City | PandoDaily (via buzz)
A RELATIVELY new field, called interpersonal neurobiology, draws its vigor from one of the great discoveries of our era: that the brain is constantly rewiring itself based on daily life. In the end, what we pay the most attention to defines us. How you choose to spend the irreplaceable hours of your life literally transforms you.
All relationships change the brain — but most important are the intimate bonds that foster or fail us, altering the delicate circuits that shape memories, emotions and that ultimate souvenir, the self.
Every great love affair begins with a scream. At birth, the brain starts blazing new neural pathways based on its odyssey in an alien world. An infant is steeped in bright, buzzing, bristling sensations, raw emotions and the curious feelings they unleash, weird objects, a flux of faces, shadowy images and dreams — but most of all a powerfully magnetic primary caregiver whose wizardry astounds.
Brain scans show synchrony between the brains of mother and child; but what they can’t show is the internal bond that belongs to neither alone, a fusion in which the self feels so permeable it doesn’t matter whose body is whose. Wordlessly, relying on the heart’s semaphores, the mother says all an infant needs to hear, communicating through eyes, face and voice. Thanks to advances in neuroimaging, we now have evidence that a baby’s first attachments imprint its brain. The patterns of a lifetime’s behaviors, thoughts, self-regard and choice of sweethearts all begin in this crucible.
We used to think this was the end of the story: first heredity, then the brain’s engraving mental maps in childhood, after which you’re pretty much stuck with the final blueprint.
But as a wealth of imaging studies highlight, the neural alchemy continues throughout life as we mature and forge friendships, dabble in affairs, succumb to romantic love, choose a soul mate. The body remembers how that oneness with Mother felt, and longs for its adult equivalent.
As the most social apes, we inhabit a mirror-world in which every important relationship, whether with spouse, friend or child, shapes the brain, which in turn shapes our relationships. Daniel J. Siegel and Allan N. Schore, colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, recently discussed groundbreaking work in the field at a conference on the school’s campus. It’s not that caregiving changes genes; it influences how the genes express themselves as the child grows. Dr. Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist, refers to the indelible sense of “feeling felt” that we learn as infants and seek in romantic love, a reciprocity that remodels the brain’s architecture and functions.
Does it also promote physical well-being? “Scientific studies of longevity, medical and mental health, happiness and even wisdom,” Dr. Siegel says, “point to supportive relationships as the most robust predictor of these positive attributes in our lives across the life span.”
The supportive part is crucial. Loving relationships alter the brain the most significantly.
Just consider how much learning happens when you choose a mate. Along with thrilling dependency comes glimpsing the world through another’s eyes; forsaking some habits and adopting others (good or bad); tasting new ideas, rituals, foods or landscapes; a slew of added friends and family; a tapestry of physical intimacy and affection; and many other catalysts, including a tornadic blast of attraction and attachment hormones — all of which revamp the brain.
When two people become a couple, the brain extends its idea of self to include the other; instead of the slender pronoun “I,” a plural self emerges who can borrow some of the other’s assets and strengths. The brain knows who we are. The immune system knows who we’re not, and it stores pieces of invaders as memory aids. Through lovemaking, or when we pass along a flu or a cold sore, we trade bits of identity with loved ones, and in time we become a sort of chimera. We don’t just get under a mate’s skin, we absorb him or her.
Love is the best school, but the tuition is high and the homework can be painful. As imaging studies by the U.C.L.A. neuroscientist Naomi Eisenberger show, the same areas of the brain that register physical pain are active when someone feels socially rejected. That’s why being spurned by a lover hurts all over the body, but in no place you can point to. Or rather, you’d need to point to the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex in the brain, the front of a collar wrapped around the corpus callosum, the bundle of nerve fibers zinging messages between the hemispheres that register both rejection and physical assault.
Whether they speak Armenian or Mandarin, people around the world use the same images of physical pain to describe a broken heart, which they perceive as crushing and crippling. It’s not just a metaphor for an emotional punch. Social pain can trigger the same sort of distress as a stomachache or a broken bone.
But a loving touch is enough to change everything. James Coan, a neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, conducted experiments in 2006 in which he gave an electric shock to the ankles of women in happy, committed relationships. Tests registered their anxiety before, and pain level during, the shocks.
Then they were shocked again, this time holding their loving partner’s hand. The same level of electricity produced a significantly lower neural response throughout the brain. In troubled relationships, this protective effect didn’t occur. If you’re in a healthy relationship, holding your partner’s hand is enough to subdue your blood pressure, ease your response to stress, improve your health and soften physical pain. We alter one another’s physiology and neural functions.
However, it’s not all sub rosa. One can decide to be a more attentive and compassionate partner, mindful of the other’s motives, hurts and longings. Breaking old habits isn’t easy, since habits are deeply ingrained neural shortcuts, a way of slurring over details without having to dwell on them. Couples often choose to rewire their brains on purpose, sometimes with a therapist’s help, to ease conflicts and strengthen their at-one-ness.
While they were both in the psychology department of Stony Brook University, Bianca Acevedo and Arthur Aron scanned the brains of long-married couples who described themselves as still “madly in love.” Staring at a picture of a spouse lit up their reward centers as expected; the same happened with those newly in love (and also with cocaine users). But, in contrast to new sweethearts and cocaine addicts, long-married couples displayed calm in sites associated with fear and anxiety. Also, in the opiate-rich sites linked to pleasure and pain relief, and those affiliated with maternal love, the home fires glowed brightly.
A happy marriage relieves stress and makes one feel as safe as an adored baby. Small wonder “Baby” is a favorite adult endearment. Not that romantic love is an exact copy of the infant bond. One needn’t consciously regard a lover as momlike to profit from the parallels. The body remembers, the brain recycles and restages.
So how does this play out beyond the lab? I saw the healing process up close after my 74-year-old husband, who is also a writer, suffered a left-hemisphere stroke that wiped out a lifetime of language. All he could utter was “mem.” Mourning the loss of our duet of decades, I began exploring new ways to communicate, through caring gestures, pantomime, facial expressions, humor, play, empathy and tons of affection — the brain’s epitome of a safe attachment. That, plus the admittedly eccentric home schooling I provided, and his diligent practice, helped rewire his brain to a startling degree, and in time we were able to talk again, he returned to writing books, and even his vision improved. The brain changes with experience throughout our lives; it’s in loving relationships of all sorts — partners, children, close friends — that brain and body really thrive.
During idylls of safety, when your brain knows you’re with someone you can trust, it needn’t waste precious resources coping with stressors or menace. Instead it may spend its lifeblood learning new things or fine-tuning the process of healing. Its doors of perception swing wide open. The flip side is that, given how vulnerable one then is, love lessons — sweet or villainous — can make a deep impression. Wedded hearts change everything, even the brain.
“I’m not a foodie, I just like what I like,” she says. “Yes, I know, it’s just like hipsters saying, ‘I’m not a hipster.’ ” (The cliché cracks her up.) “But it’s like when my boss says, ‘Oh, you’re such a foodie.’ I’m like, Oh God. When I hear the word foodie, I think of Yelp. I don’t want to be lumped in with Yelp.”—The Young Foodie Culture — New York Magazine (via buzz)
“Civilization is no longer a fragile flower, to be carefully preserved and reared with great difficulty here and there in sheltered corners of a territory rich in natural resources … Instead, humanity has erected a monoculture, once and for all, and is preparing to produce civilization in bulk, as if it were sugar-beet. The same dish will be served to us every day.”—Tristes Tropiques by Claude Lévi-Strauss
What skills did you gain from architecture school, or working in the architecture industry, that have contributed to your success in your current career?
The value of iteration, and working very long hours on the same problem to find the right solution—having that diligence is something that architecture school teaches you. It also forces you to look at everything spatially. Architecture school made me see the web in a similar way and to understand how people use different kinds of web space in different ways, and for different purposes, has helped me formulate decisions on how people will use Pinterest.
I’d say architecture school helped me learn how to approach design problems generally—that and to drink a lot of caffeine.
Mechanical watches are so brilliantly unnecessary.
Any Swatch or Casio keeps better time, and high-end contemporary Swiss watches are priced like small cars. But mechanical watches partake of what my friend John Clute calls the Tamagotchi Gesture. They’re pointless in a peculiarly needful way; they’re comforting precisely because they require tending.
And vintage mechanical watches are among the very finest fossils of the pre-digital age. Each one is a miniature world unto itself, a tiny functioning mechanism, a congeries of minute and mysterious moving parts. Moving parts! And consequently these watches are, in a sense, alive. They have heartbeats. They seem to respond, Tamagotchi-like, to “love,” in the form, usually, of the expensive ministrations of specialist technicians. Like ancient steam-tractors or Vincent motorcycles, they can be painstakingly restored from virtually any stage of ruin.
And, as with the rest of the contents of the world’s attic, most of the really good ones are already in someone’s collection.
But the best of what’s still available, below the spookily expensive level of a Sotheby’s watch auction, can still be had for a few thousand dollars at most. At the time of this writing, the most desirable vintage Rolex on one New York dealer’s Web site, a stainless steel “bubble back” automatic, is priced at $3,800, a fraction of the cost of many contemporary watches by the same maker. (And it’s so much cooler, possesses so much more virtu, than one of those gold-and-diamond Pimpomatic numbers!)
My father bought a stainless steel Rolex Oyster with a stainless band at a duty-free in Bermuda in the early ’50s.
After his death, not very long after, my mother put it away in a bank vault, from whence I wheedled it when I was 18 or so. I had a Rolex dealer in Tucson replace its white dial with a black one, so that it would be more like the one James Bond wore in Fleming’s novels. I loved it, and, one very sad night a few years later, I sold it for very little to a classmate of mine, in order to pay for a hotel room in which to enjoy, if that’s the word, a final bitter tryst with my high school sweetheart. It was one of those dumb-ass, basically self-destructive gestures, and I actually don’t regret it. I needed that hotel room. But I’ve always missed that watch, that Rolex Oyster Precision, and have always had it in the back of my mind to replace it one day with another of similar vintage. I had never done anything about it, though, and made do quite happily with quartz. My last quartz watch was a French faux-military job I bought at the airport in Cannes, on my way home from the film festival. Cost about a hundred dollars. Perfectly adequate for everything - everything except the Tamagotchi Gesture.
Unlike some earlier subcultures, hipsters generally don’t claim that title. It’s more commonly used as a pejorative, that nevertheless ends up describing a fair number of young educated urbanites living all over the US. (This is why I can laugh at the endless parade of hipster representations on Portlandia, because, while never having been to Portland, I recognize those characters in other people I see and know from around the country — including myself, whom I would never call a “hipster”!)
Predicting what comes after the hipster is almost as impossible as predicting the hippies would have been in 1959, or predicting the punks in 1967 (unless you knew that the Velvet Underground’s mostly-unheard debut album would give rise to a whole scene of like-minded folks a decade later). Subcultures usually form in response to some sort of perceived cultural conformity or hegemony. For me, today, that’s technology and the Internet, and in a way, some of today’s hipsters participate in some activities that try to eschew modernity (craft food and spirits, knitting, canning, etc.). However, I can’t see a youth subculture forming to react against modern technology, since it has become so intertwined with modern life. Since subculture members are almost always associated with cities and higher levels of education, it is possible that future subcultures may respond to an increasing sense of the global and become more multicultural in makeup and focus, especially if the US sees more of a nativist backlash against these changes.
People don’t trust Google with their data. And that’s new.
Google is a fundamentally different company than it has been in the past. Its culture and direction have changed radically in the past 18 months. It is trying to maneuver into position to operate in a post-pc, post-Web world, reacting to what it perceives as threats, and moving to where it thinks the puck will be.
At some point in the recent past, the Mountain View brass realized that owning the Web is not enough to survive. It makes sense—people are increasingly using non Web-based avenues to access the Internet, and Google would be remiss to not make a play for that business. The problem is that in branching out, Google has also abandoned its core principles and values.
Many of us have entered into a contract with the ur search company because its claims to be a good actor inspired our trust. Google has always claimed to put the interests of the user first. It’s worth questioning whether or not that’s still the case. Has Google reached a point where it must be evil?
Twitter and Facebook both have things Google needs if it wants to move into the post-web world. Facebook has social relevance. Twitter has real-time information. But Facebook and Google view themselves as competitors. And while Google and Twitter once had an arrangement, that deal fell through, for reasons neither party will fully disclose.
People often say Google’s previous CEO, Eric Schmidt, missed the boat on social. But in reality, where he missed the boat was by not inking a deal that could get Google what it needed to deliver answers in a post-PC, post-Web world. Which brings us to Google+.
Google+ solves Google’s big problems, at least in theory. It delivers a social network—arguably better constructed Facebook—that lets it understand the connections between people. It also lets Google tap into a stream of real-time data, and build a search system around that without having to worry that it will ever be left at the altar. And it does so much more, too! It has real time photos, like Instagram. It has a video chat service, like Skype. It lets you see which businesses your friends recommend, like Yelp. It’s a one size fits all solution, and what’s more it’s on the open Web. Perfect!
One problem: People don’t really want to use it. They’re already entrenched in other stuff. Many of Google’s recent actions can be explained by understanding that dilemma. Google wants to know things about you that you aren’t already telling it so you will continue asking it questions and it can continue serving ads against the questions you ask it. So, it feels like it has to herd people into using Google+ whether they want to go there or not.
This explains why Google has been driving privacy advocates crazy and polluting its search results. It explains why now, on the Google homepage, there’s a big ugly black bar across the top that reminds you of all its properties. It explains the glaring red box with the meaningless numbers that so desperately begs you to come see what’s happening in its anti-social network. It explains why Google is being a bully. It explains why Google broke search: Because to remain relevant it has to give real-world answers.
Google has to get you under its tent, and break down all the silos between its individual products once you’re there. It needs you to reveal your location, your friends, your history, your desires, your finances; nothing short of your essence. And it needs to combine all that knowledge together. That’s Search Plus Your World. “Your World” is not just your friends, or your location. It’s your everything. The breadth of information Google wants to collect and collate is the stuff of goosebumps.
And the thing is, Google’s going to get it. All of it.
The question is not if Google will be able to do this. Of course it will. It doesn’t have to build better products, it just has to force enough people into them. It will leverage everything it has—and it already is—to squeeze more information from us. The question is: should we be okay with that?
Perversely, some of the things Google has been doing to get us in that tent, and get that information from us, are the very things that suggest we may want to stay outside and keep our mouths shut.