Today, more than half the nation’s primary- and secondary-school students — more than 30 million children — use Google education apps like Gmail and Docs, the company said. And Chromebooks, Google-powered laptops that initially struggled to find a purpose, are now a powerhouse in America’s schools. Today they account for more than half the mobile devices shipped to schools.

My [UberX] driver turned out to be a Google employee who said he drew the lucky H1-B visa straw to get out of Bulgaria … he told me he works at the company’s Mountain View campus, but started driving for UberX for two hours on Saturdays and Sundays to send money to a family of four kids he met on vacation, who couldn’t afford to go to school or even shoes. ‘I just calculated that if I work four hours of a week, I can clothe all of them,’ he told me. ‘For so little, it’s amazing what you can do.’

(via Valleywag)

This is a culture that has created many new ways for us to contact one another and atrophied most of the old ones, notably speaking to the people around you.

Google’s urbanism, on the other hand, is that of someone who is trying to get to a shopping mall in their self-driving car. It’s profoundly utilitarian, even selfish in character, with little to no concern for how public space is experienced. In Google’s world, public space is just something that stands between your house and the well-reviewed restaurant that you are dying to get to. Since no one formally reviews public space or mentions it in their emails, it might as well disappear from Google’s highly personalized maps.

We live in a bubble, and I don’t mean a tech bubble or a valuation bubble. I mean a bubble as in our own little world.

Eric Schmidt | America’s New Oligarchs 

The Google policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.

In a post-Internet, post-mobile world of one click access, the distribution of products has all but ceased to be the issue. When one of something can be efficiently shipped to anyone, anywhere, the question of where the sale takes place is rapidly becoming moot. In other words, in the long-term, sales of product simply can’t be the primary strategic purpose or metric for the store.

Some of the world’s largest retailers are struggling with this jarring reality already. ‘Stack it high and watch it fly’ has abruptly turned into ‘stack it low and hope it goes’ as big box stores scramble to lower inventories in the face of flat or declining sales. The knee-jerk reaction among some is to simply downsize and marginalize the role of the store. Others are adopting the buzzword of omni-channel – resigning to the idea that all channels now act as one – which I would argue risks oversimplifying what’s really happening.

You see, what’s actually evolving is a new and far more complex role for the store, and online brands like Google, Bonobos and Warby Parker are affirming it, as they each embark on creating their own, branded, physical stores. They along with a growing number of other online pure-plays recognize that in order to ‘fully actualize’ their brands, they need to animate a physical presence and visceral experience for their consumers, not to move products but more critically, to move hearts and minds – to sell the idea, essence and values of the brand – all of which has more traditionally been viewed as the role of media. And therein lies the critical point.

The physical store is becoming media.

Twitter has a more distinct model because of the celebrity and publishing model. Facebook is in a transition and I don’t know enough about what they’re transitioning to. I will tell you that, if you have a billion users, you can make money.

There’s a lot of discussion in the world about the two billion that are connected. We spend all day talking about the issues of e-commerce and start-ups and globalisation and so forth, and we forget that the majority of people are not online and that they will come online, the majority of them in the next five years.

It’s going to happen very fast. It’s going to happen in countries which don’t have the same principles that we in America have from the British legal system – around law and privacy and those sorts of things. All sorts of crazy stuff is going to happen. Human societies can’t change that fast without both good and negative implications.

…The future for us is great. The quality of life of the first world just gets better and better and better. But for these people, they’re going to go through a rough patch where all this information shows up and they can’t quite figure out what to do.

Reader’s users, while again, relatively small in number, are hugely influential in the spread of news around the web. In a sense, Reader is the flower that allows the news bees to pollinate the social web. You know all those links you click on and re-share on Twitter and Facebook? They have to first be found somewhere, by someone. And I’d guess a lot of that discovery happens by news junkies using Reader.

By killing the flower, Google could also kill the bees.