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"?