Monday, March 05, 2007

Googles of Dystopian Fantasies

Betty's not much of an Orwellian (she's never even read 1984!!) but sometimes she's freaked by the sheer amount of time she spends using Google services whenever she's on the computer. That Google is now a verb and one we'll surely stop recognizing as a brand name in about a generation gives this earnest blogger a little shiver. That even the letter G has become synonomous with a company is scary.

Mind you, Betty is impressed by Google. She finds Gmail to be a very intuitive email service, obviously designed by people who care about making communication and organization easy (and colorful!) for the non-technical. She enjoys Google's sense of humor (did anybody else catch their V-day prank, "Google Dating"?) and creativity, reflected in their holiday/big news graphics. This blog is sponsored by Google, and could not be easier to use or to maintain. YouTube is owned by Google. Netflix will one day be owned by Google- you heard it here first! Google Maps sometimes helps Betty find things, and their news service is excellent, especially for finding obscure pieces from small town rags. She also has a dear friend who works for Google on the laudable book project. And how can she not love stories about the company's famously laid-back offices in Palo Alto?

Maybe it's the idea of all the smartest people in America having all the money and all the books that spooks Betty.

Or maybe the problem is a failure of both intellect and imagination on Betty's part. Google's services are free and they are great, and always adjusting and improving. The internet, represented by Google's wide array of navigating services to most of us, is obviously a great equalizer in an unequal world. But on the other hand, Betty has always thought (and sometimes been told) that the key to making a better world is to focus locally, to stay off the global-one-world train to monoculture and worse.

Also, while Betty knows very little about Google's corporate politics, she does know they have sooooo much money, and that they're cool with censoring some information flow in China.

Is Betty just being paranoid, or is Google's totalizing grip on our cyber lives truly weird?


venus infers said...

well, it all depends on how you define free. they do scan your mail for appropriate advertising...

but totalizing grips can be very pleasurable, you know --v.

Nancy D., Girl Detective said...

Well, bear in mind that every email you've ever written is saved somewhere on their servers.