O, Mighty Google! Spare us from your maw of madness which feeds fear into our souls, spare our punishment through your ever-humming internet machine, let our digital deaths be swift and clean! Let us forget and be forgotten.
…pleaded the damned soul. Prayer went unheard. Echoed in the halls of electric void, faded away unnoticed. The Machine From Man God went on humming, grinding; spreading the incurable disease, feeding on our unchanging perception of conformity. Until the last soul was fed through the maw into insignificance of a great heap of unintelligible flow of data-time continuum.
Can this story be rewritten? We might give a try by deGoogling ourselves and freeing other minds after that.
Google; the mighty but unmerciful, mind numbing deity of Internet. Omniscience is not the only godlike capability it has, Google also can replicate the abilities of time related deities’ powers on predicting the future, though it rarely exceeds a strong wishful thinking in which the wish makes itself come true with any little interference.
Anyway, our long begotten Techno-Deggial Google is now overwhelmingly and unnecessarily strong. This strength is only serves Google itself and not to the well being of the digital citizens of the world. The best and the simplest incentive is to provide people with free to use services and products tightly integrated so that you take one and get the rest, then forced to stay forever with ever growing plethora of freemium stuff.
What does Google do? Gathers information and uses the traffic and huge amount of data related to that traffic to sell optimised ads. That is the only revenue generation of Google except selling some more capacity/usage/quota for their freemium services.
What does Google do to optimise their ads and ad related revenue? Here comes the disturbing stuff.
Mega grinder of information
Google is a huge information grinding machine. It collects, analyses, builds cross-references and adds any more information that you let slip into its servers. This kind of ultra optimisation leads to building an “index of every bit of obscure stuff”. No other firm can collect this much of data. Eventually, you are also feeding the machine by your own input; like using e-mail service, syncing your contacts, using Google Plus to fill out the missing bits, utilising a non-degooglised Android phone…
No objections; this whole ecosystem makes your life easier. You can get the most out of your digital life. But, on the other hand, this brings some inherent problems to the life you have been enjoying. Some of them are moral challenges and others are holding you back from the less popular ideas.
All opinions are served pre-filtered
If you are using Google to do your searches you’d probably notice that you come across with the same web sites while you look for same kind of information. You search for news and and Google brings up some “popular” web sites. Same sites all the time. Google calculates (yeah, sure) how relevant is the website to your search criteria, then lists them. Relevance is a quite subjective term. Google just handles your search as good as it makes sense of it. In simple searches, like asking the price of something, that is fine. You’d come across the same websites but it does not matter if you just wish to get a rough quote.
Here comes SEO power. Google has a closed algorithm to assess web sites for their relevance and popularity. Popularity is the prevalent enemy of diversity. It measures popularity by how good your website looks to Googlebot and how many links you get from other so-called popular web sites. Let’s be honest, nobody clicks to third page of search results unless they are so desperate, overwhelming majority rarely jumps to the second page. Also Google suggests you search criteria, correcting you.
You lose your anonymity; you are served a barcode on the neck to be read out at cash register. Beep! Oh, that’s you. I earned much money off you; as a gesture of goodwill you can use my services for free to provide me with even more data to sell you! Next, please.
You store all your information with any confidentiality, a giant firm with a little respect to your privacy. For privacy issues, even Apple has some merit: Keeps all the stuff locked down with proper encryption (or we believe so). Some popular apps which store some info on Google servers does not encrypt your data during storage. Your WhatsApp backup on Google Drive is not encrypted as the firm itself says (whereas Threema always makes a encrypted copy Android Backup system that only stores credentials).
What to do?
It is up to you. If you are okay with making one company to have all your data, services and devices in control, you may wish to go on. If this disturbs you, I guess it should, you should be freeing yourself from the clutches of one single tech provider. Being in Internet business for more than ten years, arranging every single bit of information in a way that Google likes more, not the audience, makes me sick. I am fed up with the “Google before people” approach. I dislike working for SEO while having concerns over net neutrality as a tech journalist. For the last ten years, it is not ISPs that damage net neutrality more but Google.
What my point is we just give too much power to a single company just to get fooled by irritating ads, stupid paid contents and digital mislead. Google’s motto “Don’t Be Evil” has long gone. They are evil. Nobody seriously buys that any more. They sell perfectly targeted ads (read, lies) to run their machine collecting all the information they can on the process, and run their machine to target ads. Who can do what with that much information (read, power) in hand, shaping our perception of what there is on the web for us? That’s quite the mystery.
Or it is not?
Ps. A fine article has been brought to my attention about net neutrality. The article covers a lot of about what’s going on with the FCC in the United States, and possible outcomes of the reconsideration of net neutrality under Trump administration. Read it on Cloudwards.