Google's Schmidt apologizes for latest weird non-joke

Having suggested on CNN that if you don't like Google Street View taking pictures of your house, you should just move, Google CEO Eric Schmidt says he misspoke.

Great minds get bored. Especially if they constantly have to make appearances in the media to reassure lesser beings that they are, indeed, safe in the great minds' hands.

At least that is what I surmise having seen Google CEO Eric Schmidt offer another interesting touch of dialog during a public appearance, for which he has now apologized.

In a cozy chat on CNN's "Parker Spitzer" show, Schmidt recently suggested that if you're not overly fond of Street View's cameras photographing your house, you should simply move somewhere else.

When I heard this, I wondered if there were sentences that had drifted off into space while they were being digitally transmitted. As Schmidt himself said on the show, Google Street View cars only come around once, so there's no real danger that you will be continually photographed going about your daily business.

So why would he suggest that people should move to avoid Street View's withering glare?

Could this have been an attempt at humor? Earlier this year, Schmidt opined that young people should have the option to change their identities in order to escape the online footprint of their barely pubescent indiscretions.

When the less enlightened were somewhat perplexed by this suggestion, he sat down with Stephen Colbert to explain that he was kidding and that he needed to work on his stand-up (and sit-down) act.

However, it now appears that, in suggesting that people should move house to avoid Street View, he may not have been joking. He was merely misspeaking.

For Schmidt has reportedly issued a rather humor-free statement about his misstatements: "As you can see from the unedited interview, my comments were made during a fairly long back and forth on privacy. I clearly misspoke. If you are worried about Street View and want your house removed please contact Google and we will remove it."

Some will be relieved that this was not a joke. But if it was not a joke, what might have moved Google's CEO to offer such an odd suggestion? My own suspicion is that he is simply bored and that he was, in fact, offering a one-liner. Which turned into a hook, one-liner and sinker.

By issuing an apology, it seems that Google's PR people might feel slightly troubled. Might I therefore put forward a remedy to rectify a little of this weirdness? Schmidt should surely appear on the CBS show "Undercover Boss". [Disclosure: CNET News is published by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS.]

During the show, he would reveal all sorts of things about himself to Google employees (and, by extension, the rest of us). You know, personal stuff. Perhaps he has a secret soft-spot for Christina Aguilera. Perhaps he watches a lot of cartoons.

As the Undercover Boss, he would also drive a Street View car and, unlike his own drivers, every time the car photographed something dubious, such as a vomiting Brit, a boy with a horse's head or even perhaps Paul McCartney , he would stop the car.

He would go up to the people concerned and ask them for permission to use the image on Google's lovely Street View site.

At the end of the show, naturally, he would also be seen rewarding Google employees whose lives might also need a little spark. He would not tell a joke during the whole show. But he would definitely laugh at everyone else's.

 

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