The value proposition goes something like this: Wouldn't it be convenient if ALL of your communication (email, mobile phone, including text messaging); your medical and dental records; your photographic images and video; your business and personal documents, all of your bill-paying, your travel arrangements, your entertainment, and all of your banking, vehicle data, online shopping, mortgage data, tax records, wedding announcements, and just about anything else about you that involves your personal data storage and movement, could be at your fingertips whenever you needed it?
If I owned one of the largest, fastest-growing companies in the world, my mission in life would be to make sure as many people as humanly possible were inclined to easily and eagerly say "yes" to that question.
Google, the Internet’s great monetizer and search engine giant, has innovated and acquired some of the Internet’s leading applications. Their latest invitation? For you to energetically hand over every keystroke of information that you ever dreamt of typing vis-à-vis Google Chrome.
It's a combination netbook computer and web-based operating system that "conveniently" runs, "Every capability you want today?" according to Sundar Pichai, Google's Vice President of Product Management. In other words, forget about buying and "downloading" software onto your own personal hard drive. Google is going to take care of all your spyware and virus issues for you. That way, you can focus on getting around on the internet and "stop worrying about your computer," according to the product launch promotional video.
Are you worried about your computer? I'm not worried about mine, but Google is going to go ahead and solve all that for us before we even realized we needed them to. I knew my days of hiding behind my own freedom to choose what information I put out there were coming to an end. I just didn't think the end was this near.
A co-worker of mine wanted to circulate a document "conveniently," so he set it up on Google docs. Unfortunately, I couldn't access the document because it required my creating a "Google Account." I think it even involved my needing a Gmail account. I didn't want a Gmail account, or any other kind of Google account; I just wanted access to the document. I'm fine with my old school AOL email account that I've had for the past 15-years. It's bad enough that AOL has all 5,000 emails that have gone back and forth in my account over that time. The only alternative was inconveniencing my co-worker friend to send me the file as an attachment. I managed to maintain my relative anonymity for one more day, but I don't think my co-worker buddy likes me anymore.
Convenience is one thing. Having every bit of information about me forever entwined with some third-party business entity that makes its money selling fine-tuned advertising (to me) based on everything it "observes" about my web-based activity is less than desirable.
Maybe it's just me, but does anybody else see a problem with sacrificing God-given independence for global co-dependence on a god-like information "cloud"? If Google's got anything to say about it, it's just a matter of time.
Kenny Jackson is a writer-director living in paradise. He serves as the International Dean, College of Communication at the University of the Nations.