You sit down in front of the computer.
You open up Google Chrome, go to Google Mail to check your e-mail. While there, you find your friends on Google Chat and they request some pictures. So you use Google Desktop to search for those pictures. When you find them, you remembered you wanted to look up that shop in the picture so you head to Google Maps and use Google Streetview to look through the neighborhood. After all that’s done, you progress to Google News to find out what’s going on in the world, Google Reader to keep up with your feeds, Google Images to find cute pictures of bunnies, Google Calendar to schedule your day, only to find out you need to call your friend in Europe so you have Google Voice connect your call…
It is virtually impossible to avoid Google in life now, its services being so pervasive and easy to use that in a few short years Google has gone from simply a search provider to an entire Internet experience provider. Google’s hegemony on the net and its ability to make money has allowed the company to grow beyond the confines of the Internet into other businesses: merchant transactions, browsers, operating systems. And in all Google’s offerings, one overarching goal unites them. Push toward a web-based world.
It is clear to see why. Google’s dominance on the web is undeniable, and every step we take toward a web-based society, with data stored on the Internet, is a step that Google is eager to pave a path for so that it can index that data, parse that data, and ultimately sell ads based on that data.
Because of this business model, Google can always be counted on to push for a more open Internet, standardized Internet, free Internet. And it would never “become evil” because it is one of the first companies to realize that community goodwill is a resource, and has spent time cultivating this resource until it has received almost a subconscious cult-following. But sooner or later, we must come to realize that what Google is pushing for, and what we are slowly training ourselves to depends on, is one fact.
Google is Internet.
No matter how benevolent the organization, how strong its ethics, there remains something fundamentally flawed to trusting all services to a single, for-profit vendor. Recently a Google SSL certificate snafu disabled secure connections to all Google services. Suddenly I was unable to chat through Google Chat. Though I had other means, such as AIM, the Web-as-Google future would not be so fortunate.
Cloud computing, the social web, and software-as-a-service are all pushes for a usage pattern that stresses the Internet more than just as a content delivery platform, but a complete computing platform, a lifestyle platform. Under such a platform, the focus would be moved away from the hardware device. The device with which you access the Internet becomes almost inconsequential as your storage has moved to the network, your software has moved to the network, and indeed, your entire identity has moved to the network. And it is this future that Google is primed for.
By relinquishing control over technology to the network, we are in essence giving up control over what makes us individuals for what makes us a community. It is not a dystopia we head toward, and Google is not the next “Evil Corp,” but at a point, we must determine for ourselves how much is ‘we’ and how much is ‘me.’