Leaving Google - Eternal annoyance is the price of liberty
Forgive the adaptation of the popular 19th century quote, but it really is the best summation of the series of articles I am going to put together about my Exodus from the land of Google. Before I dive into how I have managed to replace Google services, though, I want to clear up why I decided to start breaking the chains of convenience.
Given Edward Snowden's recent disclosures of the universal spying by agents of our government, it would be easy to assume that I am getting out of Google services because of a pervasive feeling of being spied upon. While that certainly puts a big bundle of straws on the camel's back, it's not the real reason I finally gave way under the weight of all that burdened me.
By far, the biggest factor in my deciding to leave Google behind is a divergence of philosophy as to the place of technology in the lives of humanity. It was easy to overlook the small things that bothered me for a long time due to the sheer convenience that Google services added to my life. As they have continued to buy up companies and enter new markets, though, it has become clear that they intend to insert themselves into every aspect of human life. I am not so completely cynical that I would believe they only want to do this for the sake of spying on people or building a database of their every thought and movement. No, I really believe there are a lot of people in Google behind these decisions with the best of intentions, but with an equal measure of naiveté about human nature.
These people in Google with the best of intentions seem to be making every attempt to improve the human condition by replacing all tedious aspects of human life with convenient automation to do the chores for them. They have tried to make communications as easy and friction-free as possible. They are trying to make any information you could possibly want to know accessible as simply as asking a gadget a question. They are working to map the whole globe and the interiors of every building in order to take away the difficulty in finding any place we care to go. Oh, and don't forget they are working on self-driving cars to get us there. They now own a company that will automate climate control in your home so you don't have to be bothered by fooling with a thermostat. They are building entertainment services to occupy all that time you will no longer have to waste on mundane chores. And they even employed Ray Kurzweil to work on eliminating aging once and for all so that you will have enough time to eventually watch every one of those movie and tv shows they are ready to sell you. [Okay, technically, Ray is working on artificial intelligence, but he is always working on the health issues as well.]
And you will be like Gods
And therein lies my complaint... they are trying to "upgrade" humanity into a completely self-sufficient, problem-free, work-free existence that will no longer know pain, death, or even inconvenience. Basically, they are trying to create Heaven on Earth (and not the kind Belinda Carlisle sang about). If you are a humanist, you may be asking, "so what's your problem with that?" Well, it has been abundantly clear throughout history that things do not end well when man tries to play God. Modern technology, however, has finally empowered man to create the illusion that we can put an end to all that past evil and make this life into an ideal Utopia. And many people with the best of intentions have fallen for the illusion. They are naive, though, to believe that a life of ease will bring an end to all the evils that men have visited upon each other throughout time.
Those who know humanity to its depths know better. At best, man can achieve a state of lukewarm existence if he builds this kingdom of man, where all pains and evils will be diminished, but everything that makes us human and makes this life worth living in the first place will be diminished right along with them. The movie THX-1138 is an almost perfect representation of the emptiness that this kingdom of ease will bring about.
There is a reason that a pervasive theme has endured in human art throughout the ages that has a technological era of ease turn to a hellish landscape of death and destruction when a person or group of persons turns all the power of that technology for their own ends of control or destruction of a particular segment of the population. Man has seen it happen enough times, on smaller scales, that it is embedded in our psyche to expect it on a grand scale at the end. For religious people, there is also a similar expectation in most faiths. We have seen it enough times in the last century alone, though, that we should not have a problem believing this cycle will persist indefinitely. There is always some evil person who takes the new technology and uses it for evil despite it having been intended for good. This will never end, no matter how easy we make this life, until time itself comes to an end.
And this is why I just can't feel at home with Google anymore. I don't doubt that many of the people building these new technologies think they are doing good for humanity, but they are just trying to make us into gods, with unlimited knowledge, unlimited leisure time, and unlimited life spans to pursue creative endeavors. If they produce something like it in this life, it will become a place of despair when there is nothing left to hope for.
And now to the point
So, with all of that out of the way, I have put together a series of articles on the alternatives I have settled on to replace the services Google was previously providing me. I say "settled on" because the alternatives are generally not as good as the services Google provides. They have become very good at making people love their chains. Honestly, some of the replacements are fine, but some are downright annoying, which explains the first line of this article.
And I must also make it clear that, due to my real reasons for leaving Google, I am not considering alternatives from other companies that are also trying to become all-pervasive purveyors of convenience or "human improvement". For this reason, I lean toward open source alternatives, with concessions given to companies that at least are clear about the way they make money from you and have an obvious, cut-and-dry profit motive rather than some shadowy business model.
The links to the other articles are below. I think these are my experiences throughout this experiment that people will be most interested in.
"Sending Gmail to the Spam Folder" - www.engadget.com/discuss/sending-gmail-to-the-spam...
"Replacing Google Voice" - www.engadget.com/discuss/replacing-google-voice-1p...
"Mobile Equals Slavery" - www.engadget.com/discuss/mobile-equals-slavery-1pl...
[note - these were cross-posted from my personal site, where I included versions of these articles for less tech-savvy users - groovechickenstudios.com]
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