Posted in Musings, tagged Google on April 26, 2010|
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This is a story for those of you out there like me who find some elements of the new paradigm of everything been stored out there on the web for free a worry.
When Google Owns You – A New Chapter
Almost two years ago, I wrote When Google Owns You, about what happened with Nick Saber was cut off from all his Google applications. It’s worth taking a quick read now. Now, it’s my turn. I woke up this morning in Montreal to find that my access to my Google accounts has been temporarily disabled due to a “perceived violation of either the Google Terms of Service or product-specific Terms of Service.”
Don’t ask why. I haven’t found out yet. I can’t just yet. I’m in Canada.
So, here’s the list of things I can’t do without my Google Account:
- Use my phone properly – it’s an Android phone.
- Access my primary calendar.
- Access my Google Wave (for collaboration projects).
- Access all my RSS subscriptions (Google Reader).
- Access my documents (Google Docs).
For anyone who wants to write in the comments “you should have a backup for everything, etc,” save the ink. We all know we should have more than one system, but, look again. That means carrying another phone, using a synced calendar platform, and then for the last three, a lot of document sync.
But my thing is this: my access to several core functions are downed in one shot.
The only upside: it *appears* that it’ll be easier to fix this once I’m back in the States. I simply have to give them my phone number to receive a text message. Note that I say “appears.” I use a Google Voice phone number. Will it even be able to receive my text message from Google helping me open my accounts?
People outside of the United States should take note of this.
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Some of you may have read the article “Is Google making us stupid?”. In it Nicholas Carr says the the internet is affecting his memory and powers of concentration. Information is quick to find through a few clicks from Google “tripping from link to link to link” so that he gets sidetracked and distracted and his brain can no longer focus. He believes his brain is being remapped so it expects instant gratification without need of contemplation. He cites others who say they can no longer read books or passages of several paragraphs, who claim their way of thinking has changed. Instead they “power browse”. I think it all depends on what information you’re looking for and why. Haven’t people always skimmed over text to get the gist of it? I, for one, haven’t stopped reading books (non-fiction included). I still like to read in-depth, particularly if I’m interested in a subject. How widespread is the surge of short attention spans and is the internet (let alone Google) to blame?
Jamais Cascio on the other hand asks if Google is actually making us smarter in his article “Get Smarter“. He says that that internet is helping with our intelligence, referring to it as our “hive mind”. The internet makes it easy for everyone to create as well as consume material. Cascio argues therefore that there’s just more information out there and can be misinterpreted – “It’s easy to mistake more voices for more noise”. Scientists such as Steven Johnson maintain that increasing complexity and range of media make us smarter. Labelled “fluid intelligence”, it is the ability to get meaning from confusion and solve new problems. Cascio goes on to say that the attention deficit problem currently experienced may be a short-term problem as we come to grips with managing the glut of information, and reminds us that the phrase “information overload” was coined in 1970. “Google isn’t the problem; it’s the beginning of a solution”. The future is upon us.
Certainly I think blaming Google is unfair even if it is used as a term to indicate the way we browse and search for information. I don’t think the glut of information is making us stupid. If anything is, it would be the dumbing down of public TV programmes not the internet. (A documentary is a rarity and intelligent dramas seem to be fewer. Don’t get me started on TV – it stays off most of the time.)
Have your powers of concentration been altered? Have you stopped reading long passages of text? Or do you think you’re getting smarter, as suggested by Jamais Cascio?
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