Post Tagged with: "privacy"

Divorcing Google

Divorcing Google


I’ve been a big fan of Google for a long time. I remember discovering the search engine as a kid before it was popular, and I’ve followed the company’s explosive growth. The tools they’ve created have been incredibly useful and innovative – from Google Docs to Gmail to Books. But today, I started the divorce process.

As Google has grown, they’ve gotten further and further from the ideals that made them so attractive. I gave them a pass when they decided to censor searches in China, choosing to take their word that providing some access to information was better than none. I defended them when it became apparent that bots were scanning our emails to surface relevant ads. After all, these tools are free and Google has to make money somehow. But the Android phone was a turning point.

I bought a Nexus S, and I admit that I love it. It is stylish, syncs well with all of the major applications on the web that I use frequently, and free turn-by-turn navigation is awesome. The problem is that Google is taking massive amounts of data from my mobile use. Of course, this is no different from what they are doing with my use of their web applications, right? Wrong. You see, I paid a lot of money for this Nexus S. I traded money for a product, so I shouldn’t have to give away my data. On the web, I am given free tools so I expect Google to display ads to make money. But that isn’t fair on an Android device. If they want my data, they have to subsidize the cost of the phone.

I’ve also watched Google mismanage Google+, taking an awesome product with some fantastic features and shove it down the throats of users. They’ve biased their search results shamelessly. And they’ve all but forced Google users to join a network that no one has a need for.

And what put me over the edge was the revelation that Google is changing their policy on personal data so that users won’t be allowed to delete their own data anymore. I’m sorry, but that is in fact evil. Regardless of what the fine print says, it is my data – it is information about my relationship, career, habits, behavior, personality, etc. that is being hijacked as I am pushed out of the equation.

I won’t do it.

So, today I started the process of separating from Google. I’ve moved most of the websites and applications I use over to an email address associated with this blog, I deleted my Google+ account altogether, and I’ve changed the default search engine in my browser to Bing (until a reliable alternative emerges).

Of course, after years of integrating my online life with Google very intimately, this divorce will take time. I cannot immediately delete my Gmail account. And I am unwilling to completely ignore YouTube as I personally believe it is one of the best social networks available. But the process has begun.

It is a sad day, but I think Google has gotten too big to do good.

I hope they fail.

February 28, 2012 0 comments Read More
Sponsored Stories: Are they really so bad?

Sponsored Stories: Are they really so bad?

I wanted to start this post off by saying that the world got a little douchier today. That’s a much more provocative lead than this. But I’m not so sure.

Facebook’s much-dreaded Sponsored Stories product, which will essentially put ads in your news feed, rolled out today. Users have protested the placement of ads since Facebook introduced them, but this new product takes a bold step forward.

And part of me agrees with the protesting users. I mean, ads should be separated from organic content. And then there is the whole privacy issue too. Your actions on the site can now be used by a company to make them money without your consent. There is definitely some validity to the complaints.

But is it really so bad?

Sponsored Stories are going to take the things that you already do (“like” a page, check-in at a store) and tell your friends about it. These are things Facebook is already doing, but now companies have the opportunity to pay to promote your actions.

I think this is pretty brilliant. Studies show that 70% of consumers trust peer-recommendations over advertisements, so a brand is crazy not to take advantage of the opportunity to expand the reach of positive organic recommendations. And, let’s be honest, this is a much cleaner way for Facebook to make money than just surfacing some irrelevant ad on your page.

I think this product is a win for everyone, Facebook, brands, and consumers. But what do you think?

January 11, 2012 0 comments Read More
Is Email Passé?

Is Email Passé?

[UPDATE] 02/07/11  TechCrunch posted new ComScore numbers today showing a 59% decrease in email use among teens.

At SoCon11 this weekend there was an interesting conversation started by one of the keynote panelists, CNN Reporter Victor Hernandez. He claims that email is passé and that it, along with the phone, is an inferior means of communication to other more social means. None of the panelists disagreed, and at least one other person agreed with him completely.

I was Google Jockeying the event, so I could not participate in the conversation. But if I could, I would have disagreed with Mr. Hernandez. I, as most of you know, am a social media junky, and I too prefer Facebook messages and Tweets to email and phone calls. But I think there is still a significant place for email in our communication arsenal. The problem with current social means of communication is that it is all public – even DM’s and Facebook Messages reside on very public platforms despite their attempts to seem private. Also, in order to use these social tools for more private exchanges, the two parties must be connected. This adds an extra step to the process of communicating. How do businesses communicate with potential clients without first waiting for a connection request to be approved or for a mutual follow-back?

For me, email serves a distinctly different purpose from social media. I use Twitter and LinkedIn to make professional contacts, to share information, and to find resources for my own development. I use Facebook to share my personal interests with friends and family and to find interesting content from those I trust. Email serves as a professional channel for off-air exchanges at work. I use it for storage of receipts, account information, and other important documents/info that I need to access from multiple devices. And lastly, email bridges all of my social networks by providing a central location for private contact that is universal (a hotmail user can email a gmail user, but a twitter user can’t message a facebook user).

Of course, my opinion is anecdotal. There are studies that show that email is dying, and some universities have even quit assigning email accounts to incoming students. I think, however, that we aren’t to that point yet. Email must evolve, not die.

Facebook is working on rolling out what it thinks will be a game-changer in email. It is said to combine Facebook messages with more email-like functionality. I think this could be a bridge that might evolve email in a way so that it becomes more social, more real-time, but I’m not convinced that, at least professionally, email is passé…yet.

What do you think?

February 7, 2011 0 comments Read More