Google 9000

From the “Resistance is Futile” department comes today post:

Not only has Google assimilated every web technology in the world, but they are now colluding with Dr. Evil to incite digital mayhem and take over the world! *Cue sinister music*

Ok maybe that’s a bit extreme, but the company’s motto of “Do no evil” seams to be harder to justify these days as they run around gobbling up web firms left and right. Splashing around money like crazy, it is obvious that they have well over “One Millllioon Dollars!” But it’s not just the act of acquisition that is raising eyebrows, but rather concerns about what the sum of the parts will enable Google to become and do!

How can this be “Evil?”

Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome synergies among the new Google acquired applications that enhance existing functionality, or are logical new extensions for the search company. But at what point does all this ease of use and integration cross the line from handy tools, to just plain scary?

For starters, consider the issue of Google’s eternal cache of searches; every search, you’ve ever made, chronicled for all time! (And remember, when you are logged in it’s tied back to your Google account.) All searches, from queries for illegal movie downloads to online lingerie outlets, to Craig’s list searches, to blogs about nymphomaniac kitten lovers… oh well I think your starting to get the picture, all archived and organized for future reference, embarrassment or potential litigation. What? Your still reading? I figured you would have shut your Gmail account by now and have switched to a real dog of a search site like Lycos or something.

The World is not Enough

A few years ago, a friend of mine got all hooked on the Google Earth. From the comfort of his office he would spend hours jaunting wildly around the world zooming down with voyeuristic interest on the houses, buildings and parks below. Little did any of us realize just how intimate Google cartography was yet to become.

Consider the Google Mapping product “Street View”. If you are unfamiliar with Street View, it’s an enhancement to the base Google Maps offering that allows you to see actual photographic detail of cities that have been “recorded.” While certainly a technological accomplishment, what are the social and personal implications of this technology? If you were walking out to the mail box when the Google imaging mobile happened by – Congratulations, you are now part of the permanent record of Google. Oh don’t feel bad, many are being assimilated like this daily!

All your Data is Ours

My boss came up to me the other day and asked “What do you think of all these online Google productivity apps?” Wow, now my boss is no technological neophyte, but I was impressed at the pervasiveness of Google’s relatively new Spreadsheet and Docs online apps, so much so, that a longtime Microsoft shop like ours would consider switching away from the venerable MS Office Suite.

And we are not alone! Many others are evaluating and some are even in the process of converting to Google Online apps. I’m not knocking the functionality of Google Docs and Spreadsheet, they work fine; heck, well enough that we are considering migrating to them. Rather, I question the wisdom of turning your content/files over to an orginazation whose stated goal it the indexing of all content on the Web, perhaps on Earth!

I know this has been a rather weighty post, and I’m sure there are some great arguments for and against the juggernaut that is Google. But if history has shown us anything, it’s that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and if that axiom holds true what terrors will the keeper of “Absolute Data” be able to unleash upon us?