Why It’s Okay to be a Google Fanboy
Because I understand the trade offs. I know that I lose a little privacy every time my phone tells Latitude where I am or my web searches are synced in a history associated with my account. But I get stuff, in exchange for giving that up. I get services, like having those searches synced across my devices, or using Google Now as an increasingly vital and interesting HUD of what’s going on in my world, that I probably couldn’t pay for without that information getting collected. And despite all those trade offs, Google Dashboard has kept me more aware of what Google knows and what it uses that data for than any other service I’ve ever encountered.
Because avoiding it is practically impossible. There’s a second copy of every e-mail I have ever sent or received being held by somebody who’s not me. Many of those people will continue to use Google services. My university’s intranet is completely back-ended by Google Apps. Even worse, many of those people won’t have implemented Google’s two-factor authentication and won’t have a secure password. E-mail isn’t private. Calendars aren’t really private either, unless you plan to keep yours on paper and locked with handcuffs to your person at all times. Privacy gets to be a big deal when we talk about stuff that can actually hurt people’s lives: their medical history, their mental health, their conversations with their priests or their spouses. Privacy over where I plan to go to lunch? Like many other problems, I’ve found the solution here is not to fret about maintaining something that’s unmaintainable, but to stop fretting.
Because they use my time, attention and money-making power to make cool things. Laugh all you want about the driver-less car and the space elevator, but … aren’t those things cool? Don’t you imagine we’ll have them someday? Doesn’t it mean something powerful and positive in the world of ideas for a tech company to hire Ray Kurtzweil? Doesn’t it remark on an incredible, intense vision to set out to scan every book in the world? Don’t get me wrong, I love that my computer gets shinier and lighter and thinner every year. But it’s worth something to me to have a tech company that’s about making more than computers and smartphones.