We are usually lenient toward the peccadilloes and strange propensities of our technological demigods. They provide us with indispensable widgets, apps, and search engines; we let them let their fly freak flags fly. That’s why Steve Jobs is allowed to engage in late-night flame wars with Valleywag. And why nobody looks sideways at PayPal creator Elon Musk when he talks about colonizing Mars. Okay, so maybe their eccentricities are protected less by an unspoken pact with consumers and more by soundproof fortresses and endless wealth. But however you explain it, among this elite club of titans, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been running a steady campaign recently to make the strangest public statements.
We first noticed it in early August, when he suggested the Internet give up on anonymity and have governments access a verified “name service for people.” Then there was the we see you when you’re sleeping, we know when you’re awake meme. Now, the Journal is reporting that Schmidt hoped to gain access to Facebook users’ contact lists in order for Google to grow its own social network. “The best thing that would happen is for Facebook to open up its data,” Schmidt said at the Google Zeitgeist conference. “Failing that, there are other ways to get that information.”
You could chalk it up to stress. Schmidt has certainly faced his fair share recently. But there’s a certain unrepentant giddiness to Schmidt’s public persona recently that makes us think this is less the cracked-out rambling of a CEO under fire, and more Schmidt being Schmidt.
Not realizing people are still into “privacy”:
Why you should change your name (he subsequently claimed this was clearly a joke, you guys):
Making the future sound amazing, but far-fetched:
Getting kind of aggro: