A Google only your nightmares could love

Google has always been consider the one company that geeks could count on to be on the side of good in contrast to all those other tech companies that were considered evil. One has to wonder though if that well of goodwill is starting to seep away as Google gets into more and more businesses.

The Royal Pingdom blog had a post last week that detailed some of the ways that Google is indexing all of the information in the world with our help and at our expense – all in the name of getting something free. Here’s the abridged list of what they posted:

  • Searches (web, images, news, blogs, etc.)
  • Clicks on search results
  • Web crawling
  • Website analytics
  • Ad serving
  • Email
  • Twitter
  • Google Apps (Docs, Spreadsheets, Calendar etc)
  • Google Public Profiles
  • Orkut
  • Google Public DNS
  • Google’s Chrome browser
  • Google Finance
  • YouTube
  • Google Translate
  • Google Books
  • Google Reader
  • Feedburner
  • Google Maps and Google Earth
  • Your contact network
  • Up and coming: Wave, ChromeOS, Nexus One

In other words Google has an incredible goldmine of data to be mined however they wish. We might be willing to appease ourself with the consolation prize for giving up all this information is that we are getting to use all this supposedly great software for free.

It’s amazing to consider what kind of value we place on our own data.

As scary as the facts might be Philipp Lenssen had what for the most part could be considered a science fiction short story. The only problem is that as with a lot of science fiction there is a very good chance of it coming true – especially when it comes to computers and society.

Pete logs onto his desktop computer. It’s a “dumb” netbook built by Google and called Google Chrome Superbook 5, with a fast startup time of 0.3 seconds, the point at which the Google engineers figured further optimizations were not useful, in terms of limitations of human perception. The mouse next to the computer is also made by Google. It includes some technical wizardry that Pete was happy to wait for when he ordered it online in the Google web store: the mouse automatically logs him into his Google account based on his fingerprint, skin color and more, falling back to a password prompt if anything’s off.

The netbook doesn’t contain a browser, at least, that’s not how people talk about it – the netbook is the browser, and every computer is a netbook, so people just call that thing they surf with “the computer” or “Google,” and nobody but web historians ever use the word browser anymore. The Google phone Nexus Nine is ringing, and Pete – without picking the phone up with his hand, but simply looking at the holographic 3D projection of his girlfriend shimmering above the phone – says “I’ll call you back later, got some things to do on my Google.”

That’s only the first two paragraphs – it gets a lot more nightmarish.

The reality is that Google has perfected the perfect Trojan Horse and we all seem to be more than willing to let it inside our personal walled gardens. The once science fiction of Google infiltrating our lives so completely really isn’t that far off and that is a nightmare in itself.