July 10, 2009


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While I'm Thinking About It

Straw, meet camel.

Until very recently--this week, even--I've appreciated many of the various services Google provides. Analytics provide the stats that tell me how many of you stop by and how long you hang around. Image search has provided me with reference material more often than I might like to admit (though, to be far, more often than not I take my camera out and shoot my own pictures). I managed somehow to acquire an invite back when that was the only way to use gmail.

Remember, I even had some good things to say about the Chrome browser.

Now, there's the Chrome Operating System. It will apparently be lightweight, fast to boot, open sourced under some license or other, and designed for netbooks with rather permanent internet connections.

Chrome OS is based on the Chrome browser, and further, on a marketing gimmick known as "the cloud," which is fancy talk for keeping user data on computers other than the one the user has in his possession. Out, technically speaking, of the user's control.

Chrome OS's included applications are the Google applications. Your data, on their applications, on their servers. Yeah, it's entirely up to you to install it or buy a computer with it installed, but I'm not entirely comfortable with that, and I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with Google as a whole anymore.

You use Search, they know what you're interested in. Use Maps, they know where you need to go. Gmail, Talk, and (to a lesser extent, Orkut), let them know who you know and communicate with. AdSense and Analytics let them know a good portion of the sites you visit. "Don't be evil" or not, something to hide or not, that's a lot of data for anyone to gather.

Fortunately, there are still lots of options.

Google Documents is the easiest to replace, mostly because I've never used it. Just stick with whatever word processor you regularly use. Yes, even if it's Word. In my case, it's AbiWord which is available for almost any OS you can name.

Coming up next week: email, web stats, photo sharing, and whatever else I might come up with.

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