Eleven years ago the internet was like the world back in the dark ages. Wonderful things where happening all over it but no one would find out about it. It was growing so quickly though that a way of finding out the information you are looking for easily was a must and waiting to be filled. That huge need was covered by Google. Since then, this company has turned around to be a multi-million company with millions of dollars of profits each year and one of the most powerful companies on earth. It’s power comes from the responsibility of controlling information. When a king was once asked what he would like to have as a weapon to conquer the world he replied:
Information! Give me all the information i want and i can conquer the world!
That is more than true these days. Every day billions of searches are performed by internet users on Google alone. Millions of sites provide information that search engines have acquired. But why did i say “control” information rather than index? Well they have developed an algorithm in order to produce the results for the search term provided that is far from objective. Which result comes first and which ones are buried in the last pages or not shown at all does not solely depend on the term itself but in many factors. An example of information control is Google China. Because of certain limitations on the information that can be served to Chinese people, Google was forced to remove a huge list of sites from their result pages. Now, you would say, what could they do? Well, remove themselves from that market. But, silly me, it’s a huge market and they need their business! I am not blaming them in the end, i am just saying this to validate my point about information control.
And this is not dangerous by itself. In the past 4-5 years this company has started expanding it’s web all over the internet. They acquire many sites and establish themselves on our daily internet usage. I mean think about it for a second. You open your browser. That is Chrome. If it’s not, i bet it has Google toolbar installed. You homepage is Google. You open your Gmail. Then you check out how your blog did over the day with subscribers. Yup, that’s FeedBurner. Then, you visit Youtube to have some fun or find something you are looking for. Now, this is most of your everyday online activity and it’s all Google! I wouldn’t be surprised if Twitter is next…
But why is it dangerous? Well, a company with such a monopoly over a market can actually do almost anything without any of us being able to react. Did they sabotage Google on China? No, they keep on using it… And believe me, even if that happened in the States we would keep on using it . By the way, i know there is a case where Google was asked to provide logs and they denied it. They were prosecuted and won if i am not mistaken. But where did they do that? In a country they know very well they can’t be banned. Way to go! Now, here’s one more thing to think about. How is Google different from Microsoft these days?
All these made me think for a long time now. But what really started worrying me about the future of our online life is the attitude of the company the past couple of years, towards us, their users, and, there are two specific things that made me write this post and share my thoughts about the situation with my readers. For starters, i was asked to investigate on creating a small script for Google PR retrieval. I have seen many sites do it, providing banners and stuff, so i was always sure that there must have been an API. Well after a short search i discovered that, not only an API does not exist, but they have a pretty cryptic way of providing that PR.
To be exact, officially Google provides it’s PR data to the Google toolbar, and that only. To pass on that info to the toolbar they have a complicated URL that resides on an even more complicated algorithm. But, they should know better. If you want to hide infomation you shouldn’t count on the algorithm but on the internal state of the algorithm creating the complicated output. Luckily enough, there are some perl and php scripts that do imitate the behavior of the toolbar. They say though that Google might change the algorithm again so the programs will stop working. All in all it’s kind of a mess. But, here is my question. Why? Why try to hide this information that has become so valuable to all bloggers (and not) out there. Is it server load? Google can’t handle that? They won’t make me believe it. If it’s not that then what? They have stuffed PR down our throats all these years as the ultimate way of knowing how your site ranks out there and they are trying to hide it? Don’t you see there is something hidden behind the bushes there?
After this experience i was pretty mad at Google and the way they start treating us, their users, their power for crying out loud! And then i read this article about someone that his AdSense account was suddenly disabled, for no exact reason with over $700 in it. Now, that is not concerning on it’s own. If you read the article though you will see that he tried to contact them several times, with no luck and finally he sued. This is frustrating but what makes it even worst is what the Google representative responded when the Judge asked her why they disabled his account (she even didn’t know!)
Google can terminate your account for any reason
Now isn’t that concerning? When i read one thing popped into my mind. A roman galley where slaves could be executed or thrown overboard “for any reason“… I know it sounds extravagant but it illustrates my point. I think that they started thinking of themselves as God (or the Roman Emperor) and we are all just common users, but, they forget we are their power. What’s even more concerning is that we feel powerless over them, “Google does, it’s right!”.
You don’t believe me it’s like that? You feel i am exaggerating? Think about this. How many times have you changed what you wrote on your post just to include certain keywords that Google might like? How many times have you removed content that Google wouldn’t like? How much dependant is your site income from Google AdSense? How anxious/frastrated/sad/worried/happy/… your blog’s PR makes you? How much your income depends on it? Answering these questions you will see that you are much more hooked on too Google’s products than you thought. That it defines the way you blog or surf. You will see that it defines your everyday online activities more than you imagined. Heck, i even visited Google more than ten times while writing this article!
So, essentially what am i saying with all this rumbling? Stop working for Google! Let Google work for you! Heck with the Google bot, their AdSense policy, their PR and their stupid attitude over us. I am not saying stop using Google as your search engine (i know i won’t!). But stop depending that much on all their other products. Use Yahoo! for your mail (it’s not as good for many of you but stop hooking yourself on Gmail). Use among.us or SiteStats or WordPress stats or some other stat provider rather than Analytics. Use affiliate marketing or whatever else it’s called (i’m clueless so i won’t go deep here) rather than AdSense.
One last thing. Here is what i want to say:
Screw you Google! I use you, you don’t use me!
What do you have to say?