I’ve had a suspicious eye on Google for several years now, mostly due to the sleuthing work of Daniel Brandt and his Google watchdog site, Googlewatch. Even a casual read should make you more reluctant to use all the “free” (remember, TANSTAAFL) Google garbage, like Gmail, Google Desktop and so on.
This is inspired partly by an interview on the Alex Jones Show earlier today with a Brit whose name eludes me, but basically the idea is for everyone to not use Google or YouTube at all this Friday, or in the case of YouTube, upload a bunch of videos with nothing in them, i.e. blackness or white noise.
I decided that I would, in addition to this stop using Blogger/Blogspot altogether, which was bought out by Google a few years back, and also to not use Adsense either. Instead, I’ve decided to return to my WordPress roots and export my blog here until I can get some of my own webhosting and go back to using my own secure install of WordPress on a Linux or BSD distro.
As you can tell from my 1st blog entry, I was previously using my own installation of an early WordPress version anyway, and I have to say, it’s good to be back. wordpress.com itself is a lot better than Blogger, for that matter. Importing the Blogger version literally took 2 minutes, and no real content was lost. It was trivial to upload my obnoxious header image and find an appropriate theme, as well. WordPress for the win.
If you’re wondering, “well, what else would you use besides Google”, I’ve always been a fan of “meta” search engines that search results from multiple search engines, such as Mamma (which actually is a bit dated), Dogpile, and my current favorite, Clusty. ask.com is also very promising, and there’s of course the usual competitors such as Yahoo and MSN. Also, if you want to do real scholarly research, depending on the subject matter you should cough up the pennies for things like Lexis-Nexis and other academic search engines.
If I absolutely have to use Google, I will use it via the Google proxy “Scroogle” that Brandt has graciously setup. I actually use the SSL version exclusively, which not only has the features of Scroogle, but also executes your search over an encrypted connection so any would-be sniffers upstream will have a tougher time figuring out what you are searching for.
The main feature of Scroogle is that it caches Google’s massively privacy-violating cookie which it will not erase until the year 2038 (which is a sort of id that links your IP address and your search terms – suuure nothing could go wrong there…) and forces it to expire manually. This way, Google always sees the IP of scroogle and never gets the cookie it wants to monch on for decades.
Think that’s paranoid, huh? You should think again. You are delusional if you don’t think that Google is selling this information to the highest bidder, especially given that it’s practically in bed with the CIA. Go read more on the Googlewatch site and read for yourself. They’re a non-profit, by the way.
You might think such information is harmless, but if you combine this with all searching that is done on your Gmail account, Orkut profile and any other personal information that might be stored by its search engines in Google’s giant datacenters all across the globe in already available software that correlates information to do in-depth profiling, there is really no point in the NSA and CIA bothering with having their own stuff for this when they can just outsource it to Google and occasionally contribute some experienced information analysts.
And just today, the Wall Street Journal of all publications came out and said that Google was pushing to negotiate with telcos to violate the very net neutrality it has purported to support via ostensible activism.
You connect the dots yourself. If that still doesn’t bother you, then go back to downloading ringtones and instant messaging your friends about who Tony Romo is dating.