Quoting Jack D:
But, Zeke, I personally think you are wrong in your attacks on Google. (I mean that in the friendly discussion way) Here is what I think of Google and Buzz in particular.
Fair enough. I am not interested in suppressing anyone’s opinions. Suffice it to say I am definitely against advertisements, and have always been, no matter in what form they appear, which of course includes old media such as radio, television, and billboards. I am certainly *not* interested in any sort of “service” that fine tunes their schlock to my personal “tastes” (as they perceive them). In fact, any ad that is particularly annoying or intrusive, inspires me to *never* buy that product, or use that service. (Not that I have much money to throw around in the first place, but you get my point.)
Before I continue my rant, let me iterate that I use Google simply as an *example* of what’s wrong with our cowboy capitalism…and that, even though Google is a far less nasty example (by a long shot) of American big business, it is nonetheless culpable to a considerable extent. But Google *is* just an example, and my criticism applies to a highly immoral system that is endemic across the board. Sad to say, bellwether voices like Upton Sinclair’s at the turn of the previous century, are still needed, likely even *more* so today, than back then…thanks in large part to the emergence of global slave labor, sweathouses, prostitution rings, hazardous workplaces…oops, I meant to say global “economy”.
I never fill out online subscription surveys honestly, as I choose to guard my personal information jealously…and don’t care how *responsible* and *respectable* the company appears, based on their legal contract. For one: I am not a wealthy person, not even middle class, financially speaking. Yet I get tossed at me, all sorts of enticing products that only remind me how low on the capitalist status rung I am. For example: automobiles, lavish vacations in faraway paradises, time-share condominiums, and cosmetic plastic surgery.
For another: I am homosexual. Yet I am inundated with titillating female erotica, in hopes of enticing me to purchase the intended product (viagra, anyone? propecia? dentucreme? salsa lessons?). Bad enough they presume I’m heterosexual, but they also make the crude assumption that I regard my fellow humans–females in particular–with vulgar wishes to violate their bodies. I don’t even regard males that way. (Of course I have my fantasies, but definitely without any violent overtones.)
Of course, if I reveal to them my homosexuality, they *might*, just *might* put a stop on sending me sexual material of a misogynistic nature…but I doubt it. When some promoters of erotica discover I’m gay, they may actually stop sending me vaginal/boob fantasies, and send something equally deplorable intended to titillate my *gay* proclivities. I do have standards you know…standards which are *not* valued in any real measure, by advertisement propagandists.
I find advertising the way we do it here in America, as a gross form of visual and mental pollution…and brainwashing, especially on the young. I sincerely question if those netizens who hold women in high regard (and who place great value in consuming as little as possible), will be sent via Google’s extensive filter logarithms, *only* such promotions that match these users’ ethics. And do they actually have surveys that *ask* its users what kind of products they *don’t* want advertised on their screen? In my case that would be (for examples): *any* sort of sexually-themed material (gay, straight or otherwise), *any* sort of automobile or products related to it, *any* kind of vacation offers, *any* edible product containing meat, poultry, seafood or food that is *not* ecologically sustainable, *any* ads that glorify our military prowess, or *any* religious dogma (especially from Christian nut-jobs).
Regarding our youth: advertising towards children is, IMO, disgusting. They are the most vulnerable to brainwashing than any other age group; and a society that is truly civil, would outright *ban* commercials targeted towards them. The very notion that a child should be made to feel worthless for lack of a pair of $150 sneakers, is more than absurd: it’s vile! And all those sugar laced cereals and candy bars only serve to undermine their health in a world already so stressful, that good health should be a top priority. Advertising by capitalist ventures rarely serves the betterment of humanity, as the profit motive obscures such lofty ideals. Instead, profit is the key motive, which cares not if its feverish grab for lucre destroys the lives of many good people, in the process.
But let’s move on to something other than the advertisement issue, such as privacy:
Google may indeed hold itself to high standards regarding privacy issues, towards its millions upon millions of advocates. Even so, there is the possibility of accidental data loss or theft…and the more their databases grow, the more unwieldy they become, and the more likely they can be compromised. We are all too familiar by now, with news reports of supervisors losing valuable and highly secretive data, by leaving their laptop behind somewhere, such as an airport lounge. Even the military has been guilty of this! So if even those agencies entrusted with the most valuable sort of security data, suffer such errors, why on earth should Google be excepted from considering such a possibility?
And what if Google goes under some day? Will data privacy be respected by whatever *new* agency acquires their resources? Some years back, I read about an online service that went bankrupt…and they also regarded the privacy of their user data with the highest protection. But the company that bought them up, did not. The data was therefore, seriously compromised, and the users who came to trust the former company, were up in arms, though ultimately, they could do nothing to secure their personal data. I do not recall the company in question at this time, but I’m sure it can be looked up with a little search-engine effort.
Either the advertising *or* the security issue ALONE, is reason enough to discredit whatever *good* companies like Google accomplish. I cannot embrace a system which requires extreme sacrifice of *some* in order to benefit *others*. And this is what our form of capitalism requires…one w/o a safety net, w/o universal health care, and w/o other socialized services that would allow capitalism to thrive, only minus the cruel sacrifice of so many innocent souls.
In the most general of ways, vulture capitalism–which *is* quite the American way–requires the sacrifice of hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of lives (by keeping them in dire poverty w/no hope for a decent life), in order to plunder their valued resources, that the first world may live in decadent prosperity. And Google is definitely *part* of that system, albeit a less virulent example than is typical. This in no way means that I do not consider that possibly, Google may become a big player in transitioning our nation into one that is more equitable to those poorer nations. In fact, they are far more likely to be, than our traditional, pre-Internet business.
Tell me: if Google offered you a free luxury condo in exchange for displaying neon advertisements on the moon (which could be clearly seen from earth), would you go for it?
For further and *extensive* information regarding criticism of Google, see: Criticism of Google
To whet your appetite, two brief excerpts:
The policies and practices for which Google has been criticized include its use of others’ intellectual property, concerns that its compilation of data may violate people’s privacy, censorship of search results, and the energy consumption of its servers. Much of the criticism of Google pertains to issues that have not yet been addressed by cyber law.
Privacy International has raised concerns regarding the dangers and privacy implications of having a centrally-located, widely popular data warehouse of millions of Internet users’ searches, and how under controversial existing U.S. law, Google can be forced to hand over all such information to the U.S. government.
In its 2007 Consultation Report, Privacy International ranked Google as “Hostile to Privacy”, its lowest rating on their report, making Google the only company in the list to receive that ranking.
–end of excerpts
I think Zeke’s comments that they are buggy is simply untrue
I have the advice of more than one techie who is expert in linux programming, that Google Gears is useless for speeding up one’s online applications (such as WordPress). I’ve concluded that I should turn *off* https mode (which WP’s own help page says definitely does slow things down)…it’s overkill, anyway…no one’s gonna try to sabotage my poor widdle blog!
I’ve played around with their online docs, iGoogle, and reader. I am not alone in my frustration:
–quote from [ Another buggy upgrade of google docs ]:
looks like they aer at it again, they seem to have releassed another buggy upgrade of google docs…
the scroll bars don’t work, in IE8 or Chrome
what happened to the save anc close option when you publish a document
why isn’t the tables pop-up automatically positioning itself so you can see all the options wihout having to constantly scroll up and down which you can’t do righ tnow with the scroll bars
what’s up with the giant header bars… they may look cool on a 24″ flat panel but when you are working on a
12-13 inch laptop it’s just a lot of dead/wasted space
what happened to open this link in a new window / tab option
and why are there so many formatting issues in IE8 or Chrome when it comes to text / tables being centered in a document.
–Quote from [ Complaints Pour in about iGoogle Home Page ]:
passions are running high among iGoogle users upset that their personal portal page to the Web has been altered in ways they don’t like and without any prior warning.
–Quote from [ Google Reader Seems Buggy as Heck/ ]:
Is it just me or is this new version of Google Reader buggy as heck? I’ve waited patiently for the bugs to subside, but it almost seems like they’re getting worst.
They mostly manifest as a ton of repaint issues. The list of feeds, for example, doesn’t show all of my feeds and frequently corrupts itself. I can see them all in “Manage My Subscriptions”, but the list is a mess. I’ve got 180 odd feeds, but I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone with a lot of feeds to try to use it like that. Worse, I can no longer create new folders because the drop down box showing the list of folders is also corrupted.
–end of quotes
But there *are* excellent alternatives, so I certainly am not lacking for useful and reliable cloud applications. For examples:
- 5 Great Alternatives to Google Docs You Should Consider
- You can use Google Watch‘s “scroogle.com” search engine, equivalent to Google, just minus the tracking and data gathering.
- You can easily set up your own free home page with widgets that do the same things iGoogle provides. There are countless free web hosts out there!
- And for a reader: well, you can use RSS on your browser, or plug them into that home page. For every application Google provides freely, there’s always at least one excellent alternative. For every *new* application they come up with, you can be certain that alternative non-Google solutions will be forthcoming.
Yes, Google is a company that tries to make money. If this is your reason for hating them; then there is nothing I can say that will likely change your mind.
I am not a hateful person; that term does not apply when someone questions the integrity of a system, or business, or policy. “Tries to make money” is too simple a copout for the matters at hand…which I’ve already described in this message. “Tries to make money” doesn’t take into account the vast sea of abuses so common with capitalistic ventures…if not directly, indirectly by virtue of the other resources required to build and maintain any corporation.
Just look at this most recent banking fiasco…was it simply a matter of “trying to make money”? How many people’s retirements and careers and stable home lives have been utterly destroyed by their just “trying to make money”!
capitalism does not necessary have to be at odds with freedom and openness
Of course not, but that’s how it started out, and it’s gotten *worse*, not better. We’ve just had the SCOTUS approve of corporations being able to spend unlimited monies for political causes. Let’s just see how *that* effects the next series of elections.
The very notion of a corporation being equal to an actual person, is morbid. Capitalism is essentially evil in its origin, and intent. And its advocates are seeking a return to the 19th century, where the average worker lived in poverty, and there were no laws against sweatshops, child labor, worker safety, intimidation, excessive work hours, ad infinitum.
Google *is* a corporation, and thus can potentially behave in all the worst ways allowed a corporation, if it so chooses…and still be perfectly *legal* within its defined framework. Because it does *some* good, does not mean that either corporations or capitalism is in essence, good.
The *only* way capitalism can work in a compassionate manner, is to soften it considerably with socialized programs. But capitalism itself is intrinsically evil; it can only be tamed like a beast. Unto itself, it does nothing *but* harm, and favors only the wealthiest elite…maybe less than 2% of the population.
I feel *no* mandate to maintain capitalism no matter what, even in a compassionate world. There are many other financial models that are perfectly fine *and* democratic, that we can apply w/o any sort of requirement to hold onto capitalism like a tobacco habit.
And I think that is precisely how things will go, as this world transitions out of old ways, and towards a world united, and dedicated to preserving all life, and fostering financial equality through COOPERATION, rather than competition. A good term for this system is “socialist democracy“.
So, in conclusion – Google creates/supports great open-source projects, promotes open standards across the web that enables innovation and provides really polished web tools that are a best of breed. I can hardly believe how limited phone calls and SMS messages were before I started using Google Voice.
True enough. I am not claiming that Google has not been a major innovator…I am only pointing out this “ga-ga for google” syndrome which tends to blind advocates from seeing both sides of an issue. Personally, I abhor cell phones…not for what they are, but how Americans use them. They constantly interrupt conversations, and intrude themselves often in the most irritating of ways. I cannot begin to tell you, how much it irks me, when I’m having a good conversation with someone, when suddenly their cell phone beeps…and they *expect* me to shut up immediately, and let their cell phone take center stage.
I understand that Europeans are far more respectful towards others, regarding their uses of cell phones. For one, they ignore their beeping cell phone, when engaged in conversation. For another, they keep them turned *off* when in a theater, at a symposium, or in other organized gatherings.
Cell phone companies have found a clever way to increase the cost of basic service at least fourfold! I do not make LD calls except occasionally (about 3x/mo.)…so I use a cheap service online, that charges me just 1 cent/min. anywhere in the USA. And international calls are also cheap, say 2 cents/min. to Great Britain, for example.
Otherwise, I use my land line for less than $10/month. Not many people call me, nor do I make many calls. But I have e-mail, chat, IM…all free, via cyberspace. So I don’t *really* need a telephone any more. In fact, I value my land line solely because it allows me dialup access to the ‘net! (Can’t afford high speed service.)
There should be lifeline cell phones for the low income and disabled…say, basic local unlimited service for $15/month. But the phone companies always beat down such proposals before they ever get off the ground. So I’m keeping my land line till pigs fly, and hell freezes over! Or to paraphrase:
“If you want my land line telephone, you’ll have to pry it from my dead, cold fingers!”
In sum: I have absolute confidence that innovative technology could go on perfectly fine with or w/o Google, or any other capitalist venture. After all, look how far the Linux/Freeware/OSS/et al communities have come so far, withOUT capitalism! Possibly *the* most successful venture born of the Free Speech Movement. Doing *so* much these days, to benefit the least fortunate among us, in a troubled world beaten, raped and terrorized by the beastly hands of Das Kapitalism.
My, was *that* a good rant; thanks for letting me vent!
I can see Google sending you an e-coupon for Cheerios right now!