Saturday, March 29, 2008

AOL & Compuserve

It occurred to me this morning that the Google universe has now become, by growth and stealthy usefulness, an ecosystem rather like AOL and Compuserve once viewed themselves.

AOL and Compuserve were gateways to online content. You connected to their servers, through their browser, and spent most of your time reading their content, providing eyeballs for their advertisers, and contributing to their forums (or email lists). Eventually both providers opened up access to more of that new fangled 'internet'-thingy... and gradually their own content whithered away, so that they're little more than search and portal services.

On the other hand, as we all know, Google started as a search engine with a friendly logo, (Rather remeniscent of the "Don't Panic!" of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) but has gradually grown to provide all sorts of services, and a portal homepage to boot.

Specifically it struck me that I use (in no particular order):
  • Google Mail
  • Google Search
  • Google Homepage
  • Google Reader (RSS feed reader)
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Documents
  • Google Checkout
  • Google Maps
  • Google Earth
  • Google Finance
  • Google Notebook
  • Google Images
  • YouTube
  • ... and ...
  • Blogger (did you know that?)
Check out this list for yourself... you might be surprised just how involved in your life Google has become.

I'm not sure at this point whether this is a good thing or not, mostly because it's never caused me any problem to be so entangled with Google, but that, in its own right, causes me anxiety ... what about resilience, and availability? And can I really trust the big cuddly, cool, fluffy corporation that is Google never to anything evil with my data?

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