Career Commons is Open for Business
Social Media Dead Ideas

A Week Without Google

No_google My daughter is taking a New Media Research studio class at NYU where (somewhat to my dismay), she's learning about using RSS and Delicious. I'm dismayed because I would have taught her about these things for free, but you know college students. Parents are good for tuition, not for tutoring. Or maybe I'm just jealous that I can't take the course.

At any rate, this week's assignment is a doozy--A Week Without Google. That's right, no Google Search or Google Alerts, no Gmail or Google Talk, no Google Video, no Google Docs or Google Calendar, no Google Maps or  Google Earth, no Google News, no Google Groups, no Youtube (!!), no Blogger, no Picasa, no Google Checkout, no iGoogle, no Google Translate, no Google Chrome, and if you have a G1 phone, you are not allowed to use Google services with it--talk and text only.

For my daughter and her friends, the hardest thing to do without is YouTube, which has replaced channel surfing on cable as their favorite time-waster. For me, I would go insane without Google Search, Gmail, Google Docs and Google maps.

The assigment is interesting because it vividly illustrates how dependent many of us have become on Google. It also raises the question of whether or not this is a good thing, especially in the wake of last week's malware scare.

In a post on Google Monculture and the Cloud, Kas Thomas wonders:

If Google were to go down (or become essentially unusable -- same thing) for, say, 72 hours or more, how disruptive would it be to the economy? Would online retailers see a slowdown in business? Would job-seekers remain out of work longer? Would the productivity of information workers (who supposedly spend a couple hours per day doing online searches) be seriously affected?

How would users of Google applications be affected by problems with the main search engine? Google offers over 70 services of various kinds. Does anyone even know what all the dependencies are?

There are dangers in relying too much on any one service or company. Monopolies breed customer abuse and we're certainly handing ourselves over to Google in ways that, should they choose, could do some serious damage. We also know that online, monoliths invite the attention of hackers who want to do maximum damage with minimal work (one of the reasons I like my Mac--fewer viruses to worry about). And even with no malicious intent, reliance on a single company means that if something goes wrong, it impacts every interdependent aspect of your work.

This leaves a big question in my mind--are we too dependent on Google? Although it's wonderful to have so many services working together so seamlessly, are their downsides to all Google all the time that I'm not considering as I should? What do you think?

Could you go a week without Google? Do you think it's a good or a bad thing to be so reliant on one company? What should we be considering in all of this?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

This makes me wish there was more competition. Ive looked at other email services--they just dont compare. And the more my friends use google the more I end up using google as I think google has more social networking built in.

Of course, the more we use a service the more we trust them and rely on them which is inherently dangerous. However, it is almost as if consumers want to rely on one system because it is more efficient. I like logging into my google account and seeing my email, documents, and photos all in one place.

I think the better question is how do we foster more competition? Are there any companies making products that are just as efficient?

The two thoughts I have are (1) Is that the right question? Recognizing the monopolistic aspects, the public is pretty fickle, and if something else came along, many would jump ship pretty quick. To some degrees, this is like asking to go without electricity. One can do it, but why?

The second thought (and more depressing one) is how many teachers and faculty, stuck in the old model of education, routinely DO go without Google and its services weekly!

You might as well take away food and water! (Yes, I am entirely too dependent on Google. Came here, of course, by way of Google Reader.) - Jeff

The prospect of no Google products for one week, may warrant the need for a 12 step program!

I use GoogleTalk all day, Gmail, igoogle and google search so regularly, plus all my photos I send to family are on Picasa.

I think I'd have to configure my firewall to block me accessing all of those apps, as its become such a part of my every routine that I don't think I'd realize I was doing it!

There ARE alternatives to many of Google's most used services. And some of them are quite good, such as Yahoo Mail, MS Live Maps, MS Live Search, etc. Monopolies and mono-cultures can be scary things, particularly when people needlessly impose them on themselves :)

Kia ora Michele

No Google. Hmmm. No comment.

As for parents and tutoring (even tuition). There is nothing more deflating for a parent who is also a teacher attempting to teach his or her offspring. While the potential is there to do great things (and that can happen) my experience is that it simply isn't worth the heartache and the relationship. Never mind the self-esteem of the parent/teacher.

I have not entered into tutor/tuition phase with any of my younger children. But there are lots of things we do together, and some of these mean that we all learn together. Now that's something. For we can then share what we've learnt and THAT works.

So, if you want to get a kick from teaching your kids, take them somewhere you can both learn the same new things at the same time. THEN you start building the relationships of collaboration that we, as educators, say should work between learners in learning groups. Magic!

Catchya later

from Middle-earth

The comments to this entry are closed.