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Apology Issued To Google And My Readers

I want to publicly apologize to my readers and to Google for my post regarding Google being evil. It was shortsighted and rash without level-headed thinking and clarity. I was misinformed, but had thought with Google supporting AIM that my gmail account could now login to AIM servers. In other words, I was under the impression that users had the ability to choose either Jabber or AIM as their protocol for Google Talk depending on which protocol their family and friends used.

This is clearly not the case. Every user who signs up for a Google Talk account is using the Jabber protocol. However, if they already have an AIM account, they can give their login information to Google, and Google will connect to the AIM servers via the method of transports- a long supported featured in Jabber. With my impression of users having the ability to choose, this lead me to the conclusion that Google was hindering the progress of Jabber by giving users another protocol to choose from.

Think of the following analogy: You are a Chevrolet car dealer, and have been selling Chevrolet cars for years. Then, all of the sudden, you decide to start selling Ford vehicles as well. You do this with the hope that you will bring more business to your dealership. Chances are good that you'll sell more total vehicles. However, you will sell less Chevys than you were prior. This is because you are giving your shoppers a choice. As such, you are hindering overall Chevrolet sales. I was under the impression Google was doing this with Jabber and AIM.

Dax Kelson gave me a better analogy of what is actually happening. As a language institution, you sell Spanish courses. You decide now that you would like to sell Portuguese courses. However, the Portuguese package is a separate package that is added on to the Spanish package. In other words, every new customer still purchases your Spanish classes, but now they can also purchase Portuguese as an option if they would like. This is more fitting to what Google is doing. Every customer gets a Jabber account, however, they can add AIM support now too if they would like.

As with all assumptions, we can see where not clearly studying out the details takes you. In my case, public humiliation. I'm okay with that. I seem to do this to myself a lot. You would think I would learn my lesson, but I guess old habits die hard. At any event, I apologize.

Now, let's look at why this is a good thing, versus a bad. First off, every account uses the Jabber protocol. End of story. I've known this for some time, even having to explain it to well established geeks in the community thinking Google Talk and Jabber are separate. They are not. Google Talk is a brand that uses the Jabber protocol. Even if you decide to give Google your AIM information, and connect to your AIM account with Google Talk, you are doing so via the transport feature of Jabber. So, let's look at this transport feature.

One of the philosophies of Jabber is that anyone should be able to run a Jabber server under any domain. This means that I shouldn't have to connect to a vendor-supplied server, such as MSN or Yahoo. Instant messaging should be like email, allowing any domain to communicate to any other domain. So, I have a Jabber server running under the domain of which should be able to communicate to Google Talk users using their domain, as well as domain users, and so on. Decentralized server-to-server communication is the main philosophy behind the Jabber protocol. So, how does AIM fit in?

With transports, the server that you are connecting to can, and should be able to connect to *any* IM server. This includes the proprietary networks and protocols, such as AIM, MSN, Yahoo, GaduGadu, Novell Groupwise, ICQ and more. This allows us to connect to our family and friends regardless of what protocol they are using. Of course, I would love to see them using Jabber instead of MSN, for example, but I can't force them to switch, leaving behind their other contacts. So, using my Jabber account, I can use the server to connect to any server regardless. Because I support Jabber, and would love to see it's global acceptance, I also support transports. Which means, I support the initialization of Google using AIM in their Google Talk product. Google has brought so many to the Jabber protocol, it would be silly to judge them harshly.

While I don't support the AIM protocol, and don't have an AIM account, I understand why Google made the move they did with their Google Talk product. The decision is to bring more users to Google and connect people to more of their friends and family without alienation.

{ 13 } Comments

  1. Wolfger | December 12, 2007 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Props to the man who admits his mistakes!

  2. Alex Jones | December 12, 2007 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, but your comment has been flagged by the spam filter running on this blog: this might be an error, in which case all apologies. Your comment will be presented to the blog admin who will be able to restore it immediately.
    You may want to contact the blog admin via e-mail to notify him.



  3. selkie | December 12, 2007 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    i think you still got it wrong, google is NOT using a transport here. they cleary say they are using "openaim"

    While i am not sure what that means (for me it sounds like the same thing for example piding does) obviously it does not mean i can use my pure jabber client to connect to my gtalk account and chat on aim.

  4. Derek Buranen | December 12, 2007 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    To carry your first analogy to the second, Google is like that Chevy dealer, but they aren't selling Fords, they're just giving you the option of adding xm radio that is AOL in addition assuming you have an account with xm.

  5. Sander | December 12, 2007 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Open AIM is used for the contact list. Maybe Google couldn't use XMPP for that here because AOL has patented contact lists in the USA.

    You can send messages to AIM users from within other XMPP clients when you're logged in to Gmail. You should direct your messages to aimscreenname@aim then. So this technique may probably be called a transport.

  6. Stephen | December 12, 2007 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    An excellent post. I must say when I saw your first post I thought it was a little over the top. Well done for having the courage to admit you were wrong, and to explain in such detail why you were wrong.

  7. Jeff Schroeder | December 12, 2007 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Thankyou. This is a much more rational and informed post. Keep it up!

  8. shermann | December 12, 2007 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    selkie: google will use an aim transport here which is using the aim protocol...if they don't use it, just fire the CTO..
    the transport is giving all the opportunities to sync the roster and give the jabber user the "just sending an IM to an aim user"...
    if google is using the "one client and hundreds protocol" technique, they are just as stupid as all kopete and gaim users or trillian and/or miranda users

  9. zik | December 13, 2007 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Google may or may not be evil, but the store-and-forward passwords feature of jabber certainly is.

    Sharing passwords is a Bad Thing. Storing passwords is an Evil Thing.

    Every jabber server I looked at stores passwords in plain text.

  10. Dread Knight | December 14, 2007 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Woop! You did the right thing. I'm proud of you.

    So hopefuly in the near future you won't need things like Kopete, Pidgin, InstantBird, Trillian, Adium, etc, you will only need a Jabber client. This would make things easier. A better world.

  11. XC Fan | March 7, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for admitting your mistake. Very few people have the courage to do that. Great blog and post!

  12. XC Fan | March 7, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for admitting your mistake. Very few people have the courage to do that. Great blog and post!
    Even though it says I am Using Safari and Mac OS X, I use Google Chrome and Windows XP Home!

  13. Aaron | March 7, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Yup. Look at Google Chrome's user agent string, and you'll see why. They're advertising themselves as the Safari browser.

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