The language Google knows best is English

Google is taking Microsoft down with the tools of journalism.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

Matt Asay compared the latest Windows and Google marketing and quickly found for Google.

Windows 7 ads are Madison Avenue at its best. "Windows 7 was my idea," users say, and the TV ads feature them at their most heroic, as male models taking showers and being virile while they imagine features Microsoft wound up implementing.

Google ads are all Mountain View. Its Super Bowl ad was a shortened version of one of its search stories, a series of Google searches that told the story of a man who met a woman in Paris, married and had a child. In 30 seconds.

Google gets it. Microsoft does not, Matt writes. But what does Google get exactly? (They got something Scott Adams wrote about, in Dilbert, back in 1995.)

I think what they get is that people get tech. People today are comfortable around computers. Nearly all people are. So talking to us in English about features, about what your tech can do for me, is far more acceptable than it was 20 years ago.

The jargon of strips like Dilbert, in other words, is now understood by everyone. We all get the joke.

This goes well beyond TV. Take the Google comic book. It's techies talking tech, but in simple English, and not the kind which assumes you don't know what's behind the words being said. It doesn't talk down. It talks at.

It's that, but it's also a Manga. It's as if Google programmers are living in a Tokyo of the mind. The pictures break up the pitch, turn the pitch into a story. I think Madison Avenue believes this kind of thing goes over peoples' heads, and 20 years ago that might have been true.

But no more.

There is another key Google communication tool, one that relates directly to open source, but also relates to Google's financial advantages over other open source companies like Ubuntu.

These are its Software Development Kits, its SDKs.

SDKs are often written alongside code. They're coding documents for coders. Getting through them separates the men from the boys, the women from the girls, the Americans from the Chinese.

Google developer documents aren't like that. Here's a piece of one taken at random:

Content providers are activated when they're targeted by a request from a ContentResolver. The other three components — activities, services, and broadcast receivers — are activated by asynchronous messages called intents. An intent is an Intent object that holds the content of the message.

Sounds like nonsense, but each term mentioned here is defined before it's used. It's easy to follow, it's organized, it's structured. The sentences are short. It's thought out by people who are well paid to translate geek into English, or any other language.

In the early years of open source proprietary companies like Apple and Microsoft had a big advantage in this area. They had the revenues that let them hire the tech writers who could do this kind of thing.

Open source projects did not. Some open source advocates even prided themselves (some still do) on how poorly they communicate what they are doing.

This is changing rapidly, because Google has raised everyone's game. Take a look at these documents for a simple open source tool called UltraDefrag. It's got pictures, bullets, and simple language. It's well done.

Point is that time has changed the tech community. We know more than we once did, or we have been replaced by kids who do. Google speaks to this audience, eye to eye, and has raised the game of every other open source developer in the process.

Google is taking Microsoft down with the tools of journalism.

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