Just yesterday, I read two different authors providing information about the reach and actions of Google. Now many feel that Google lives up to its corporate motto: "Do No Evil." Me, I am a bit more suspect and in all honestly a great deal more suspect of their motives, and any companies motives who lives solely on trading information about individuals to advertisers for money…
Now, I know some of the audience that I will present this to, will look at all of the good that Google is doing for education and educators. I will concede that google DOES provide a plethora of services for many many people for free… But, let's keep our eyes open here, there is no such thing as a free lunch. All of the data they are gathering through all of their services: search, voice, DNS, APPS, youtube, picassa, blogger, and many many more all have one thing in common. They are tracking all that you do, where you go, who you interact with, interests, habits, and much more. We as educators are also bringing our students into their folds…
While I do leverage some of the Google services, I am trying to do it with my eyes open to all of the potential motives that a for profit company has… But it is stories like these that really get me concerned about Google's motives:
"Google has made some changes to its Gmail service, upgrading six Gmail Labs experiments (like YouTube previews) to become standard Gmail features, while permanently dropping five others (including location-based signatures)."
The real source of my concern is the perpetual "beta" that most / all of Google's services are in… Google doesn't seem to understand that once a service is pushed out to the public and people start using it, people begin to become dependent upon that service. Also, there is a strong perception that because it is Google and the ginormous pockets that Google has, those services will continue ad infinitum. There are simply too many examples where this is not true. See above, also Google Notebook, Google Answers, Google My Stuff, Google Gears, and more… Is Google Groups on the way out too with Google Wave potentially taking its place? or maybe Google Buzz?
Another second potential issue I have with Google in their seemingly indiscriminate and unfocused expansion they are currently undergoing… There are many companies that Google has purchased in the past to "bring them into their fold" or simply eliminate a competitive potential down the road… I have seen many of these good services "Googlized" into something of a shell of their former services (like JotSpot) and other simply "phased out of existence" like "reMail."
"All of the structured data templates launched by Jotspot in July 2006 have been stripped out. Users now have a choice between just five basic templates – a standard wiki, a dashboard where google gadgets can be embedded, a blog-like template for announcements, a file cabinet for file uploads, and a page for lists of items."
Now many simply balance these "changes" against the "good" that Google is trying to do… Like Google's recent announcement that they would be bringing "ultrahighspeed" (1GB) internet to select communities around the U.S.
"In Google’s vision of the future of the Internet, the live streaming of 3-D medical images from a rural health clinic to a specialized medical center or the downloading of a full-length movie in a matter of minutes would become commonplace.
But Google’s promise to build the demonstration network is also the latest example of the Internet search company using its money and industry clout to help shape the future of the Internet to its liking."
At the same time, we you aware that Google was granted the rights the behave like a power company? Yup, you read that right, Google Power a wholly owned subsidiary of Google will soon be providing power to possibly a home near you…
The order grants Google Energy the power to sell energy, capacity and services at market rates.
Why does Google want to do this? Right now, the company rakes in billions of dollars from ads and it doesn’t have to have extensive support desks and remote repair teams — the kind of people-power providers must have on staff — in order to do it. Selling power is a much more hands-on business.
Google has said it wants to go carbon neutral. With the FERC order, it can now effectively erect as many solar panels and install as many fuel cells as it likes without worrying about having purchased too much capacity; the company can now sell off the extra power it generates.
But more importantly, Google can now exploit its massive data centers to provide services for controlling power consumption in commercial buildings, industrial sites, and homes. It is largely a task that should be handed off to large computer room.
Some will say GREAT! But, remember Google is all about finding out YOUR habits and selling them to the highest bidder… What will your power usage tell them about you?
So, am I tilting at windmills? Should we not be concerned about these things?