Like most power users of the web, I find myself waist-deep in Google’s ecosystem. I have a bunch of Gmail accounts, I use YouTube, Reader, Voice, Calendar, Maps, Earth and of course, search. This hasn’t been too much of a problem for me, since its been mostly a symbiotic relationship. I get access to a bunch of free services, and Google gets user data that it can sell to advertisers. I just want to point out that of all web advertising, I find Google’s to be the least intrusive and by far the most tolerable. Hell, I didn’t even notice the Gmail ads until someone pointed out that they were there. I understand my relationship with Google, and its not one of vendor customer.
After this whole issue with Buzz, however, I’m seriously starting to rethink that relationship. Its not just the horrible privacy implications or the half-assed backtracking they’re doing, its the fact that they just decided to shove this new thing down our throats. I’m not worried about the privacy of my dssstrkl Google account, since its a public persona. Its not what I use to communicate with family, work or government. But that’s still not the point. I like using services that I find interesting. I’m not at all interested in having companies decide that I need to use what they tell me to use.
Additionally, while Google talks the talk about the open web, Google itself is notoriously closed. Letters became less interesting when I discovered that the real reason no one had made a great Gmail-optimized IMAP client is because Google won’t allow it. The Google Android apps are all closed source. In fact, none of Google’s web apps are truly open, and their TOS prohibit scraping. While I laugh at people who cry about how Apple is trying to become like Microsoft because of Flash or the App Store, I’m much more concerned about Google.
Google owns a bit too much of my web experience, especially the sensitive parts, like my email or physical location. I’ve turned off Buzz, which is useless and irritating, but for the first time, I’m thinking about the rest. I hate Google contacts and have to constantly fight with it. The fact that Google insists on controlling my contact list and is of the opinion that “People Who Email Me” is the same as “My Contacts” and gives little or no control drives me insane. Google’s lack of respect for my control over my contacts list is one of the reasons why I have no interest in Android. Regardless of what Google thinks, “People I Email” is not the same as “My Contacts,” and “People I Call” sure as hell isn’t the same, either.
Google really seems like they’re more and more interested in keeping me stuck in their ecosystem all the time. I’m not particularly interested in Google or its ecosystem. I just want good services that improve my web experience. Google’s insistence on control is starting to hurt that experience. I think it might be time to excise Google from everything but search (maybe even that). Its been a while since I’ve set up a personal server, but the hassle might definitely be worth it to get back control.