Googlized, Are We?

Earlier today in class, I mentioned that I small collection of links related to Google. My entire collection, which I thought was bigger, is available on Pinboard, a bookmarking service. Here are some of those that might help with today’s excellent discussion.

The Jenny McCarthy and erroneous UAL stock story reveal that using Google, or really any single source, for information can be dangerous. The episode I mentioned about pump-and-dump is partly due to an erroneous story gaining prominence.

Eugene sent me a list (an illustration, really) of the products Google has killed. The one that hurt me the most was Reader, but I found another service that I pay a monthly fee to use. In the meantime, Google has been pushing people towards its social network Google+, even if it really only serves Google.

Another creepy thing about Google+ is that if you use the services, it allows users to send you messages to your Gmail. As with everything in the data-gathering world of “free” Internet services, this is the default behavior. However, you can opt out.

One explanation for why Google “sunsets” these services is because Google is trying to keep us in its walled garden, dependent on their services. According to Marco Arment, Google did so to “compete with Facebook for ad-targeting data, ad dollars, growth, and relevance.”

One of the most popular services that Google offers is Gmail. It’s no secret that Google sniffs your email to build an advertising profile. That seems like a fair exchange, no? You get a free email service in exchange for your delicious data. But what about when your university switches to Google Apps for Education, which is free to qualified institutions? It’s not like you have a choice. You have to use whatever email service your university offers, no? Is your university email and other data safe from Google’s terms of service that allow them to use it for advertising/marketing purposes? A lawsuit, moving through the federal courts, argues that Google has been using the data of Apps for Education users, including K–12 students, for building marketing profiles.

Michael Arrington, founder of the popular website TechCrunch, is certain that Google has gone so far as to read his Gmail messages. Eek!

Finally, I’m surprised…shocked even that we didn’t mention Google Glass. (Is it really that irrelevant?) As Google’s motto has been “don’t be evil,” it now implores those testing Google Glass to not be a “glasshole.”

N.B.: Yes, I am aware of the irony of the Google+ link in this and every other blog post. Follow me, and let’s be done with it.