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Important changes to Google docs to be aware of

This may be slightly old news, as I received this information from Google five days ago but only got around to reading it today, but it is definitely worth being aware of.

In a few weeks (no specific date given) Google search bots will start crawling Google docs that “have been explicitly published outside your organization and are linked to from a public website… which means they can appear in search results you see on Google.com and other search engines.”

Whilst Google are excited by this change, it’s worth noting that documents you may have thought private, or at least vaguely so, will be findable if you, or someone unbeknownst to you, has put a link on the web to a Google doc/spreadsheet/presentation you’ve created or contributed to. So it’s worth checking the settings of any document where this might cause problems.

Here’s the email with more:

Hello Google Apps admin,

We wanted to let you know about some important changes around published documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

In a few weeks, documents, spreadsheets and presentations that have been explicitly published outside your organization and are linked to from a public website will be crawled and indexed, which means they can appear in search results you see on Google.com and other search engines. There is no change for documents published inside your organization or shared privately.

If you wish to prevent users from publishing documents to the public internet, we now offer an admin control in the Google Apps Control Panel that allows users to continue to ‘share documents outside the domain’ without allowing them to publish the files to the public Internet. To change this setting, follow these steps:

– Login to your admin control panel
– Select Service Settings > Docs
– Un-check the option ‘Users can publish documents to the public internet’

If a user does not want their published Docs to be crawled, then the user must unpublish them by doing the following:

– Go to the ‘Share tab’
– For documents and spreadsheets, choose ‘Publish as web page’. For presentations choose ‘Publish/embed’
– Click on the button that says ‘Stop publishing’

For more details, please see this Help Center article: http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60781

This is a very exciting change as your published docs linked to from public websites will reach a much wider audience of people!

Sincerely,

The Google Apps Team

Email preferences: You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important changes to your Google Enterprise product or account.

Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

Note: The reason for copying and pasting the email here it here is that the link given doesn’t repeat the information or explain things as explicitly.

Response to: Not all information wants to be free – By Jack Shafer

The idea that people won’t pay for content online has become such a part of the Web orthodoxy that New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller risked getting lynched earlier this month for merely musing about paid models for the online editions of his paper. Not helping Keller’s cogitation was a contemporaneous “secret memo” from Steve Brill and a Time article by Walter Isaacson, both which advocated variations on the micropayment model. Neither advances the topic much beyond what most Web entrepreneurs understood long ago…
via Not all information wants to be free. – By Jack Shafer – Slate Magazine.

A good review of what works and doesn’t work with paid-for content and some of the problems that the publishing world is currently facing. Whilst the article doesn’t cover all the possible attributes of successful paid-for content services, Shafer does provide a fairly comprehensive summary that covers most aspects, as follows:

Not all successful paid sites are alike, but they all share at least one of these attributes:
1) They are so amazing as to be irreplaceable
2) They are beautifully designed and executed and extremely easy to use
3) They are stupendously authoritative

Sites that immediately spring to mind that fulfil some of these attributes are:
Flickr, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and McKinsey, together with a plethora of B2B titles.

However, in the article Shafer wonders why people use iTunes and similar services “when they could easily download the band’s entire discography via Bittorrent for free”, and speculates whether it is because it is an outside-browser-experience. Whilst this may be a factor, there might be simpler answer which could be added as a sub clause to number 2) in the list above, namely:

2a) Sites that take the effort out of doing something that can be done for free (legally or not) but is time consuming or requires a small amount of additional technical knowledge.

In the case of iTunes, it also shouldn’t be forgotten the incredible power of marketing to support the service, the integration of iTunes into their hardware products and the brand alligence that Apple customers exude – an additional consideration to any business considering introducing a paid-for service.

UPDATE, 23/02/2009 >> Two pieces in today’s Media Guardian this topic and how it relates to newspapers:
Jeff Jarvis, News sites should quit moaning about payment and just gopher it
Jemima Kiss, The writing on the paywall

Event: New Media Knowledge – What Happens to Magazines?

What Happens to Magazines?
When: March 3rd, 2009 18:30 to 20:00
Location: Lansons Communications, 24a St John Street, London
Price: £25.00

The magazine industry is going through so much change at the moment, with the likes of Conde Nast launching two new titles (Love and Wired) on one hand and small online magazine like The Londonist and Agit8 bubbling up. Then there’s so much happening with the weeklies, B2B publishing, how advertising is effecting the industry, reading things on screen versus in print, large online-only magazines such as Handbag.com, content, niches, engagement, conversation, the link economy, the Kindle and how ebook technology might change things…

I’m therefore really looking forward to chairing this on 3 March, with six panelists on board it’s going to be an interesting evening. Please do come along and make it a really good discussion. Oh, and take a look at the official overview of the event – rather than my ramblings – here.