Lauren Weinstein has an interesting discussion going on his blog, noting a series of recent incidents where Google has done a spectacularly poor job in communicating with the public -- something I've been critical of the company about, as well. The company can be notoriously secretive at times, even when being a lot more transparent would help. Even worse, the company is quite difficult to contact on many issues, unless you happen to know people there already. Its response times, if you go through the "official channels," are absolutely ridiculous (if they respond at all). Weinstein's suggestion, then, is that Google should set up a small team to play an ombudsman role -- basically acting as the public's "representative" within the company
. This wouldn't be a "customer support" role (which is often focused on fixing problems directly) as much as a helping hand within the company. The team could take up issues sent in by the public, find the proper folks within the company and get a real response. While the company may fear that such a group would be overrun by complaints, you would think that it could pretty quickly classify the incoming requests into real issues vs. bogus ones, and concentrate on the real issues. Having such a group could certainly help ease the growing view that Google is something of a monolithic entity that walls itself off from the public that uses it.