Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries


Googleplex. Horror movie.

I took a brief break this afternoon from coming up with creative reasons to do things other than pack my kitchen cabinets and fretting about not having an apartment in C-U yet to check in with my online peeps, my twitterati and FriendFeed folks.

I found myself a bit surprised to see how enthusiastically this savvy smart technologically forward thinking group of folks has embraced the beta testing of Chrome. Embraced it despite knowing it is from Google, miner of all data. And also despite the fact that there is general acknowledgment that while it is wicked fast, it lacks most bell & whistle features that folks depend on in Firefox and IE.

For me, Google has swung the pendulum back to paranoia inspiring. In library school, I was on the fence about the goodness of the Google, leaning towards concern. Over the last few years, my conscience has twinged me from time to time, but I have found their tools to be too too useful to give up for mere privacy concerns. But a Google Browser (and the in-the-works Google phone!) have inspired renewed fear. That’s right folks, fear.

Google says their motto is “don’t be evil”. And Google says that they just want to make all the information in the world publicly available. But I can no longer see how their emphasis on gaining access to my personal info, my impossible to get at personal info (like what I say on the phone!) — and everybody else’s personal info– in every possible way can be seen as anything but a force for Evil.

Because if they want to make all info available, pulling the info in is only step one. Aggregating and sending it out into the world is the inevitable outcome of their mission as combined with their current product development.

Based on Frienderati lack of Chrome-aversion (the whole privacy/googleplex thing is enough to ensure I won’t touch it) I am now actively dreading the Google Phone. Because I’ll need to come up with a way to block incoming calls from it, people. Google already gets enough of my private data to play with (and I wish I could wean myself from what google tools I use). But when the Google Phone comes out, I will no longer know when I making the choice to sell out the future for convenience’s sake.

Am I too paranoid? I really don’t think so. Google isn’t Microsoft — they are most explicitly not in the business of creating productivity products for cash income. They are in the business of making information accessible. When they go into the business of giving away productivity tools, you have to ask how that helps them achieve their own goals.

When media literate, digitally literate, technologically literate powers of teh interwebs turn their faces away from the implications, what chances do we stand of teaching our students to protect their own data? Oh, I just deleted a positively apocalyptic sentence comparing erosion of privacy to global warming. ::sigh:: That makes it time to close the post.

Interwebs, am I alone in my fear?