Thursday, July 25, 2013

Are We Willing to Pay the Price for Free?

Google.  Almost all of us online folks use one or more of their products. Is this a good thing?
 
(Note: This post doesn't even begin to touch on personal data collection, or the other prices we pay for "free" including the possible loss of personal liberty. That could easily be the topic of another post. Rather, I'm talking more about personal inconvenience.)



Today, I thought about just how Googleized (is that a word?) my life has become.  I like (and use) Google Maps (I love the iPhone app), Blogger (yup, the blog you are reading is hosted on Blogger), Google the search engine (I've tried Bing - yes, I like Google way better for searches I do), You Tube, and Gmail. I used to like to waste time with Google Earth, but haven't gotten into it recently. These products are all "free".  But, free has a price. And, it appears, that price has several components:

1. "We are going to waste your time by organizing you whether you like it or not."

Gmail gave me "tabs" for my email even though I didn't ask for them.  I don't want "social" and "promotion" tabs for my email.  Do you want to know how to get rid of those?

Google, give us inboxes or give us...oh, never mind.  But a quick search on...er, Google - reveals I am far from the only one not too happy over this.

2. "You are going to get our ads shoved in your face whether you like it or not."

Gmail has always had ads - after all you must pay for free - but now the ads are in your face.  The first "in your face" ad insisted on me viewing a Facebook link for winning a trip to somewhere I have little interest in visiting. The ad explained it was based on an "email I received".

So, Google,you just confirmed that you really do read my email, or at least keywords.  And I'm at a loss knowing which email I received that mentioned that country.  It could have been a blog post someone I subscribe to wrote about their trip to that country.

I couldn't get rid of the ad entirely, but at least now it's inviting me to download a free spell checker. (I'm not the best speller, and Google must know that.  Well played, Google.)

3. "You are going to start using your Google Plus identity whether you like it or not for sites such as You Tube, and if you don't want to have your real name associated with your You Tube Account, well, lots of luck with that."

My You Tube channel does not have public links.  It is under my blog's name and I want to keep it that way.  My videos are not quite ready for prime time, or any other time, yet. It took me over an hour figuring out how to undo what Google was trying to do unto me, and You Tube whined at me at every turn, insisting I undo the changes.  For now, I've won.  Ask me again next month.

I can see the day where my Blogger blog will insist on me using my Google Plus profile, and that will cause another level of aggravation and time wasting because I do not want my real name directly associated with my blog.  I've written enough about the neighborhood where I live, and I don't want a direct association with my name. Although, because I use Twitter to comment on a lot of blogs, my secret identity is actually not that secret.  Using Google you can...(sigh).

Yes, again, I realize their products are powerful, and they are free. If Google can't use ads and other techniques, their products won't stay free.  So yes, I know that free means "it isn't REALLY free; we just hope you aren't going to find the hidden "yeah, but" in our fine print."

So, each of us must make the decision:  Are we willing to pay the price for free?  So far, I've been.

Are you willing to pay the price for "free"?

16 comments:

  1. And, let us not forget that there are those in the government that declare spying on our phone calls and eMails are the price to be free, as well!

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    1. It is quite scary, Roy, what has been happening in our country.

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  2. Alana,
    I don't look it, either, but when you are involved with anything online, you realize that you're giving away a lot of privacy. I've become a lot more careful about what I send in e-mails with private messages, because I've noticed the targeted ads. If I had a health condition, for example, that I didn't want the world about, I would no longer use e-mail to communicate about it. Of course now the federal government is listening to our phone calls. I guess face-to-face is best, unless a satellite catches sight of us . . .

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    1. I would think corded landlines would be the most secure - but how many of us would have a corded phone nowadays? And, even those can be tapped. I will not use gmail to discuss anything truly private.

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  3. Unfortunately, it's the nature of online business. In order for them to continue to pay for their staff and programmers to give us great tools for free, we have to put up with all those annoying things. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. So true, and we as consumers must each make the personal decision of what works best for us, and what we will accept as the price of "free". As long as we all know there's a price...

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  4. What a refreshing blog. You are so right. There is nothing free. I have heard that Google keeps track of everything you do so I have started using Ixquick.com for searches and now host my own email account. You never know how things may change in the future so I rather play it safe and keep my privacy, at least as much as I can! It's really hard with technology these days.

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    1. I agree. I haven't investigated any alternate search engines yet but I might be, sooner than later.

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  5. Great post! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one annoyed and a little creeped out by all this. But I guess there really is always some kind of price to pay for freedom, of one kind or another. Thanks for expressing this all so well!

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    1. Thank you K.L. Freedom always has a price...

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  6. I grinned at your revelation that they suggest you download a free spell checker! Glad you were not offended.

    Yeah, it's annoying that we are pushed to use Google plus. But as far as privacy, we haven't had that in ages. When we signed up for phones, we found ourselves in the phone book. And before I was old enough for that, folks had party lines and could listen to each other. I've decided I'm not going to care about privacy on the web.

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    1. Ah...I can remember party lines in New York City. Am I dating myself? And, I know I am not a good speller. All my elementary and junior high school teachers knew that, too, all too well.

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  7. I hadn't realized a lot of the information you gave. This Google trend is beginning to sound threatening. And yet, I know we can't receive anything for free.

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    1. I may be looking into another search engine - not because I am doing any searches anyone should be interested in, but, out of principle. Meantime, yes, we all give up privacy on the Internet and sometimes pay a heavier price for "free" than we may think.

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  8. Hi, great blog Alana, Yes I noticed the whole tabby thing this morning. Most unimpressed. Thanks for the info in this blog it's all a bit clearer - Big brother is organising our lives for us :)

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    1. I've untabbed my gmail for now - hope Google gets the message because it looks like they are getting a lot of negative feedback about it.

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