The Network Hub

Feb 4 2009   9:14PM GMT

Google can hear you now

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

A college professor once warned me never to put things in writing — which was funny given that he was a writing professor. What he meant was that to ensure confidentiality between people I communicated with remotely, I should speak with them over the phone. That way, he said, it would be much harder for a person to publicize or look back on anything said. Arguably, phone call privacy isn’t guaranteed, but between a hand-written note, an email, an IM conversation or a phone call, the audible record was the most anonymous. Google’s recent acquisition of GrandCentral Communications, however, makes phone call privacy much less likely.

can you hear me now?

As consumer-centric as Google initially set out to be, they just keep either building new useful enterprise applications or acquiring companies that do. This acquisition is a prime example; GrandCentral Communications “provides services for managing your voice communications,” according to Google’s blog entry.

GrandCentral’s pitch is this: “No matter how often you move, change jobs or phone providers, everyone can still reach you through the same phone number.” And the business advantage can be seen in that this technology would give enterprise workers more flexibility: If you miss a meeting or a call, you can listen to it through someone’s forwarded email. When you discuss ideas with your boss you’ll never have to take notes again or run the risk of forgetting an assignment.

But this advantage also comes at the price of having to pay much more attention to the words coming out of your mouth. Editing what you say can only happen inside your head. Once it’s out, it’s there to be heard — and recorded, and posted to a blog and turned into a techno song by Indaba Music users.

Yes, with GrandCentral.com a conversation can go from phone to public forum within clicks. They keep your phone call records in their database and you can forward them to your colleagues, post them to a blog and more. So unless you’re talking to someone in person, any mode of communication through a device may as well be a record of your intercourse.

Let’s not get forget the impact this has on server space and network bandwidth. As the network remains the central core that enables connections and communications, the converged network which carries voice and video traffic across IP networks, is all the more demanding. Some months ago, Cisco’s push for network convergence was said to broaden the role of network pros. But with corporate kings like Google vying for more enterprise voice and video, this is only the beginning of what networking professionals will have to deal with.

Now that workers can easily manage their voice accounts, you may be wondering who is helping network pros manage the voice data on their network. SearchNetworking.com created a workshop on how to manage voice performance on your network, dedicated to this very cause. And if there are any other management tools you’re looking for, let us help you find them and get organized.

On a side note about getting organized, GrandCentral’s FAQ section says “Google acquired GrandCentral because its communications services fit into Google’s mission to organize the world’s information.” That was “to organize the world’s information.” At least you don’t have that responsibility.

And for Google, who does have that mission, thank you for helping me find, through your search engine, these articles on ways you frighten the general public:

And believe it or not, there’s an entire website devoted to the topic: Google as Big Brother.

Thanks for reading, watching, and hearing…

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