[Tweeters] eBird acquired by Google…uh-oh

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 1 04:04:15 PDT 2015


Surprised and a little apprehensive about the news that Google acquired eBird today.

On the one hand, I bet we’ll see all sorts of cool new improvements – the user experience side of eBird is about to get a big boost. (GoogleAnalytics aside, if google can turn its maps into Pac Man games, think what they can do with bird lists!).

But on the other hand…. Google being able to essentially track exactly where every eBirder is travelling [in real time for bird-log users] and who they are travelling with is a bit creepy. And Google has purchased and ‘retired’ so many companies in the past that there’s an online graveyard for them [http://tinyurl.com/cdc3h3b] – what will happen if birders suddenly lose all their data on eBird??

From the news report on TechCrunch:
“Mixed Reaction from Birders on news of Google Acquisition of eBird” [link]
It looks like Cornell Labs is the latest company to earn a paycheck from Google – word leaked via various bird enthusiast email lists today that Google has acquired eBird – a hugely popular product largely unknown, outside the world of obsessive bird watchers. “eBird”, an online database of bird observation powered by the data input of over 100,000 users has grown rapidly in the past five years – enough to draw the interest (and investment) of Google. Google’s interest is presumably less the birds and citizen science than the data provided on the movements of so many affluent users. A note on eBird's main page gushed about the 'synergies' of the buy-out, the 'potential to better predict and serve the needs of its customers, not just the birds' and the belief that integration with future editions of GoogleGlass may revolutionize the way birds are observed and reported. Google confirmed the acquisition but nothing more. “I can confirm the news and that they’re joining the Google+ team. We aren’t sharing more beyond that at this point,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.

We'll see how this plays out , I guess, as the eCommerce side of Big Data comes to our neighborhood....

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA


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