There are two components to our definition of open: open technology and open information. Open technology includes open source, meaning we release and actively support code that helps grow the Internet, and open standards, meaning we adhere to accepted standards and, if none exist, work to create standards that improve the entire Internet (and not just benefit Google).
Open information means that when we have information about users we use it to provide something that is valuable to them, we are transparent about what information we have about them, and we give them ultimate control over their information. These are the things we should be doing. In many cases we aren't there, but I hope that with this note we can start working to close the gap between reality and aspiration.
First, let's give the company props, as they deserve major kudos for even being willing to open up their proprietary core as much as they do (think how a company like Yelp avoided having to re-create the wheel or throw a sinkhole of costs to incorporate rich mapping functionality into their service, thanks to the relative openness of Google Maps).
At the same time, I have to roll the eyes a bit, as it all feels like selective adherence to the openness credo.
After all, it’s not like crown jewels like the search index are white boxes for consumers to granularly control or repurpose, or for brands/publishers to do the same.