I was honestly surprised by how angry this article made me. The problem with the analogy is it acknowledges what these companies think they're doing without pointing out how utterly, totally, predatorily wrong they are.
The author chose to creampie Google for affecting a cutesey accent and booking "a hair appointment" rather than parsing exactly what's going on here - and what's going on here is a fucking travesty. For starters, "I'm just going to get any old haircut between ten and noon," said no one ever. Presuming "hair cuts" to be an elastic good predicated on geographical distance is asinine in the extreme. But look at all the shit that gets filled in:
1) Google works from the latest and then backtracks because it's easier from a processing standpoint
2) Google ignores the hard shit - "just a haircut" is not a question a women's salon ever fields. Preference for stylist? not asked. Length of hair? Not asked. Has she come here before? Not asked.
3) Even the stuff that did get asked doesn't get to the client. You have an appointment at Salon X at 10:30. Who with? Suppose she'd been instructed to get there ten minutes early? Pretend it's a dental appointment rather than a haircut - gonna need you to fill out these forms and be fifteen minutes early also who's your dental insurance?
4) Why that hair salon? Because they're Google's first hit. Why are they Google's first hit? Because their website has the best SEO. How to beat that? Fucking Google Adsense. So now your hair isn't getting cut by the highest review on Yelp, it's getting cut by the stylist with the best website.
But ignore that for a minute. Sandar argues that some unholy percentage of merchants don't have online appointments. the horror! So what's Google going to do?
force you to deal with their system.
I shit you not: the first time Google calls my business I'm getting into the VoIP menu and blacklisting their ass. Because we deal with humans, who are looking for human information, who talk to a human we pay to pass along humanity and the amount of shit that gets lost in the middle is unfathomable. And when it gets dropped, that customer isn't going to be mad at Google. After all, they said "computer, make me a random-ass appointment" and they showed up on time. No, no. They're going to get mad at me. And the best way for me to avoid this problem is to wrap my business around Google.
Facebook is the same problem: They're not bringing people closer together. They're suggesting that I should want to interact with a person who interacted once with another person I interacted with once. There's this whole "garbage in, garbage out" problem that the article completely misses because the author doesn't want to address that none of the tech giants have learned they're forcing garbage on us.
Steve Huffman tried to launch a travel site called Hipmunk. Back when he did it I figured I'd give it a try. It gave me the worst hotel I've ever been in, and from the stories I've told and listened to, the worst hotel anyone has ever been in. But it ticked all the boxes: close to the interstate, close to dining, cheap. It had no way to evaluate whether those dining restaurants were any good. it had no way to parse Yelp reviews to find the two that mentioned finding excrement on their bedsheets (one of which said, and this is a direct quote, "a real human turd"). From Hipmunk's point of view, it had given me the perfect hotel. From a human point of view, it had given me a dire shithole.
None of the companies listed are the vaguest bit interested in helping humans. They're interested in monetizing their data manipulation strategies. And you either pay them, or someone else pays for you, and in all cases they've long since lost sight of the shore on this one.
It's a fine analogy if you take as its basis "and all these organizations are lying to themselves and lying to you." Because you know what? There's no part of the App Store or iTunes that touches the "bicycle of the mind" at any point.