Google Has (More) Secret Public Meetings

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Google has historically been pretty secretive about what the company is working on – that’s typical in the corporate world as it keeps competitors in the dark. But more interesting than that are Google’s Not-So-Secret-Secret-Meetings with hundreds of attendees agreeing not say anything about what they heard.

This isn’t new. Google’s been having these public-secret meetings since at least 2005, when 400 A-list journalists, bloggers, and corporate bigwigs were filled in above and beyond what the general public is and asked not to talk about it.

Much to our surprise, they didn’t – at least, as far as we know.

The most recent collective hush comes out of New York where Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist and TCP/IP pioneer Vinton Cerf gave a presentation. Those invited were given these instructions, according to Nathan Weinberg:

In order to support the free and open exchange of information at our speaker series events we ask that attendees refrain from recording or reporting on these meetings, their content or Google.

Virginia Tech professor Jeremy Hunsinger didn’t get that message, and in a blog post titled "I drank Google’s beer, then left," he explains why a vow of secrecy moved him out the door:

Google said that if i wanted to blog or publicly discuss the event, I had to get their permission. If I’d have known, I would not have attended or been affiliated with the event in any way. I am a professor, was and still am, and by the very nature of my job, i cannot guarantee that I will follow their rules about publication or blogging. I couldn’t consent to them, so I had to leave.

Just what was Cerf talking about? Well, again, nobody’s talking, either like good sheep, out of commitment to their agreement, or fear of not getting invited again. Asking one person to keep a secret is one thing, but asking hundreds to drink your Kool-Aid and them do it – well, that’s borderline frightening.

As Danny Sullivan points out, these rules don’t apply to CEO Eric Schmidt, who is always on the record. 

Google Has (More) Secret Public Meetings
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