So, I’m still bothered by the Google thing. I’m bothered by how reliant I am on Google’s products the same way I was bothered by how reliant I was on Microsoft’s products. It happened so subtly that there was never a conscious decision to use Google products and services exclusively. It wasn’t something where there was a “well, I can’t get this anywhere else” conversation or a “well it works better with this or that feature” conversation with myself. Google just quietly (or not-so-quietly) put out their products, and we downloaded them and incorporated them into our lives.
The sheer amount of data that Google has of ours is staggering. And that’s just the data we know about. Seeing as how they “accidentally” picked up some private data from wifi networks on their Maps expeditions, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they’ve got more on us than we know about. And then there’s the stuff they have that we do know about, but don’t think about. In The Big Switch, Nicholas Carr points out just how easy it is to identify people — and glean information about them that they would otherwise keep private — just from the types of searches we do, the city we live in, and our date of birth. Besides being able to positively identify anyone with that information, think for a second about how much information a stranger would have about you if they knew every search query you ever typed into Google, whether it was for personal, academic, or business reasons.
So I’m going Google-less for a week, starting next Monday. I want to see how easy or hard it is to weed Google out of my life as much as possible. We got pissed off when Facebook started passing around our personal information but Google has now threatened to take on the FCC, a government agency, telling them “you have no jurisdiction over how we do things here” at the cost of small businesses and individuals worldwide.
Now, some things will be more difficult than others, for example, we use Google Checkout in our business (which came from boycotting PayPal), so there’s that. And internally, we use the Google Talk protocol to send messages across the room (although I don’t actually use the client because I use Digsby, and other than that it’s just another Jabber server). YouTube is so ubiquitous it would be somewhat difficult to avoid it entirely (though I’ll try) and this blog uses FeedBurner to handle the RSS feeds. But in every other way I can think of I will try to avoid using Google at all costs and we’ll see where it takes me in a week.
I encourage anyone who reads this blog to do the same and to pass this message on. It’s good to put things into perspective once in a while and find out just how dependent you are on certain services. If Google went bankrupt tomorrow, what would you do? And, possibly more importantly, what would happen with all your data? What would happen if you went Google-less for a week?