Thursday, 31 January 2008

iGoogle, Yes iDo!

I've been wanting to write about my google mania for a while. Ever since the year 2000, when I was (kinda pretending to be) studying Biochemistry in Edinburgh Uni and was plugged the search engine there by teachers, other staff and students alike, I've been using it and its services more and more. And more.

I now use everything from Google Documents to Picasa to quickly check (and sometimes share) my documents, awesome services like Google Maps to Google Calendar to get along my otherwise hectic life, gMail and Google Reader I dutifully check every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to bed, and both YouTube and Blogger, those major late-'00s-social-crazes which I'm obviously party to, belong to them too. Google Product Search (formerly known as Froogle) and Google Scholar I rarely use, but I really respect as well for what they are and for what they offer.

This gives rise to all sorts of debates, which I'm sure most of you often get caught up in, involving the fact that, hey, those guys own most of our daily lives and the personal information that goes with it, and most of us not only give them free reign over it, but we frackin' thank them for it. So, if they were actually 'evil', they would have us all by the short-and-curlies, at this point. All they would have to do is use the information they have, and they would pretty much take over the world, in an oh-so-subversive fashion!

So, then, why is it that I don't care? Why is it that, although I do recognize their power and all, I still don't mind handing it over to them in every occasion when they offer something that makes my life easier or more organized? This article kind of gave me an answer for that, which I read as an equivalent to it being OK for Microsoft to have an OS monopoly [until linux manages to bring out a totally user-friendly distro, that even Adobe products and games will come out for, and Larry Lessig doen't need to bring out all those lectures any more, and we all live in a pretty little world where ice cream flows free in rivers].

You see, I really don't think Google's off to take over the world: why would they want to? It would be too much of a hassle anyway! It's just, I find, that some weird survival thang tells us to be afraid of anything that has too much power gathered around it, and automatically fear it and assume it's bad and that its intentions are to hurt us in some way. A conspiracy with good intentions, you say? What's that? (Hitleriffic!)


Dimitrios Doukoglou said...

There's no such thing as a benevolent corporation. You can talk about "Google taking over the world" to make it sound ridiculously farfetched and put yourself at ease but the fact is they don't have to be as despotic as that (or even have plans as grandiose) to do a lot of damage.

The point is, Google doesn't have a conscience. They might be following the path of righteousness, now, but that's only because it happens to suit them. If something, God forbid, goes wrong (Sergey Brin wakes on the wrong side of the bed, or more simply, Google isn't meeting its quarterly quota) you can bet your ass they're going to milk every last penny out of your precious personal info. Because that's why companies exist. To make a profit.
Me, I'm very worried. It's just a matter of time. I wouldn't trust a saint with all that power, much less a multinational corporation.

Even more, I think it's incredibly ironic how there's people blissfully going on about how Google is a good company... not like all the other bloodsuckers. It reminds me of a quote from the Usual Suspects... "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convinced the world he didn't exist."

Mel said...

Dunno, you may be right. Something which I'm scared to even think about.

I guess we'll never know, until the moment comes to look back on it. Which is even scarier, come to mention it.