The Google way of effective communication


Tech news that instantly spread beyond the blogosphere to the mainstream media is yesterday’s announcement from Google about Google Chrome (link not working as I write this), a new browser that’s expected to be launched in beta sometime today.

Already there are hundreds if not thousands of blog posts and media stories, together with thousands of opinions as comments, about Google Chrome and its likely impact on the web.

The best bite-size chunk of commentary I’ve read so far is Darren Waters’ take in, the BBC’s tech blog.

Two things I find especially interesting are how Google’s announcement came about, forced as it was because of an inadvertent leak; and how Google Chrome is being explained.

According to Google’s announcement:

At Google, we have a saying: “launch early and iterate.” While this approach is usually limited to our engineers, it apparently applies to our mailroom as well! As you may have read in the blogosphere, we hit "send" a bit early on a comic book introducing our new open source browser, Google Chrome. As we believe in access to information for everyone, we’ve now made the comic publicly available — you can find it here. We will be launching the beta version of Google Chrome tomorrow [Sept 2] in more than 100 countries.

The news was broken by Philipp Lenssen, the blogger based in Stuttgart, Germany, who writes Google Blogoscoped: in his mail yesterday, he received a copy of the comic book explaining Chrome and the development thinking behind it, earlier than Google had intended.

He blogged it, thus forcing Google’s hand once Lennsen’s post attracted immediate and widespread attention.

(Aside: I like Steve Rubel’s PR angle on this, especially his conclusion: the world is flat.)

As for explaining Google Chrome, the comic book approach is sheer brilliance, in my view.

It was created by artist Scott McCloud, who explains its purpose:

Yes, it’s true: I drew a comic for Google explaining the inner workings of their new open source browser Google Chrome. Details have been leaking all over the Web since a few copies apparently went out pre-launch by mistake, so here’s the skinny on my small part of this very cool software project.

[…] It was designed as a printed comic for journalists and bloggers. Lots of people have had fun scanning those advance printed copies and posting them however, which is fine with Google (and me) since it’s published under the creative commons license.

So there’s clear license and active encouragement to reproduce the comic everywhere, which is what is happening already.

And the product hasn’t come out from under its wraps yet.

I think the comic book – see the screenshot above of one of the pages – is extremely well done as a communication tool that explains complex technology in simple terms, which produces these benefits:

  1. Anyone, from the technologist geek to a CFO, will have no trouble understanding what this browser is and is intended to do
  2. You can clearly see why Google has developed it
  3. It will likely fuel your curiosity to make you, the web user, want to rush and get a copy asap to see things for yourself

You couldn’t wish for a better effect.

[Later] Google Chrome is now out. I’ve installed it and video-recorded some quick initial impressions.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Rob Clark

    Google couldn’t have picked a better person than Scott McCloud to help explain their new browser. Comics in our culture are typically for telling tales of fantasy and science fiction, but Scott’s mastered the art form as a means of communicating ideas.

    His book, Understanding Comics, is highly recommended, but check out his series of online comic essays ‘I can’t stop thinking’ from back in 2000-2001 for more great examples of comics as a communications tool.

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