“I know it exists,” she exclaimed, “I Google-Earthed it. I could see it with my own two eyes!” Wow. So now we aren’t just Googling, but Google Earthing. I suppose we Froogle products. And forget e-mailing, from here on out I am Gmailing.
This conversation reminded me of a little parody my friend Keith and I imagined about a year ago over coffee. Dubbed “Nineteen Eighty-Google,” It went something like this:
“It is 1984, and you live in Googletham, which is part of the country Googalia. The world is divided into three countries: Googalia, Yahoolia and Microsoftland. Googalia, like the other countries, is a technologically totalitarian society led by Big Brother, which monitors everyone’s online behavior, even their online intentions. There is one hope, however, and it is to join the rumored underground group known as the Hackers.”
Parody? Pastiche? Our future? At the rate we are going, your personalized Daily Google will deliver only the news you want to read every morning on the commute. After work you stop at the local Gooligan’s for drinks with your co-workers. On weekends, you might check out the new exhibit at the Googleheim Museum before a quick shopping trip to Whole Google for fresh veggies facilitated by Google Checkout. In the evening you might see the long running play ever on Broadway – Phantom of the Yahoo!
Cool or scary? For most, the latter. So the big question is: If this is such a scary future, why do we continue to support Google products? Is there some underlying Machiavellian force at play so that we both love and fear our ruler? For me, it is always a bit of a shock when I click on the little link at the top of my Gmail box that says “all my services.” Then, as I go through each and every one, I realize that some I simply cannot live without.
Of course, there was a day when my hotmail account was the most sacred online application I used (it was probably sometime in 1997). In fact, I occasionally still use that original account, though it has most certainly fallen out of favor with me over the past 10 years. In retrospect, I suppose this was inevitable.
Looking forward, perhaps this is also the inevitable fate of Google. If we look back just a few years, the majority of computer users were both tethered to Microsoft and simultaneously suspicious that this giant was trying to rule our desktop. Sound familiar? Yes, today, we are reliving this scenario with the Great Jolly G.
So the question remains: Ten years on, will I still be using my Gmail account? Or, will I have joined the Hackers?