Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Google-isation of my world

I don't know whether to be excited or horrified by the extent to which my online activities are increasingly linked to Google.

I've got me an iGoogle page, which I love. I use it to link to my gmail account, and it also tells me how many unread items there are in my Google Reader. It also links directly to documents sitting on Google Docs, which I'm using for personal and professional collaboration - I'm working with two other people on a conference paper using Google Docs, and the ALIA committee that I'm on has given up waiting for ALIA to create an online storage space for us and we now use Google Docs for, well, everything.

I used to read my feeds in Bloglines, but at my last job they had a filter blocking most websites that used blog software, which included Bloglines but didn't include any Google websites, so I moved all my feeds to Google Reader. I've got links to my favourite websites on my iGoogle page, and I just adore the little fox creature and his turtle companion. And, of course, one day I suddenly started logging in to Blogger with my Google account.

Is anyone else getting a bit weirded out by this?

On one hand, it's really cool. Jumping around jobs this year has made the iGoogle thing so handy - not only do I not have to continuously update my email address with friends and family, but for some reason I've had a string of jobs that had crappy computers associated with them, and it's been easier to put work links for any given job on the iGoogle page than it is to bookmark them in Internet Explorer, only to loose them all when my computer died (seriously, I've been plagued by this in the last 6 months. My kingdom for a good work computer and network!). I feel as though my previous internet activities were scattered, like I needed to go to a million different places to do the things I wanted to do. Now I feel like some of it is starting to be grouped together, and I'm creating my own space on the internet. And no, I'm not talking about MySpace.

But on the other hand, it makes me nervous. I know all my data is being read. I know that "they" know all about me now. There's all kinds of information being gathered, and I know that I can be nicely profiled and targeted by advertisers. Or, you know, The Man. Plus, the more I use Google the more reliant I become on it - and things change quickly on the internet. A lot of people have bet a lot of money (sorry, invested through share holdings) that Google will be around for some time yet, but we don't have many business models for that - no one on the internet has been around very long, so what if one day Google is gone? I know, I know, it won't happen overnight, and there'll be others, and by the time it does happen everyone (including slow-on-the-uptake me) will have moved on. But still...

As an aside, I love seeing the ads on the side of my gmail - some of them are so wonderfully random that I enjoy trying to figure out what in the email prompted them.

Dear readers - is your life being taken over by Google? How do you feel about it?

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