People are taking a few too many swipes at Google lately.
Whether it’s those who paint the company as the creepy stalker taking pictures of your house, or those who consider it the password-swiping Big Brother who wants to lock you in a box, they’ve all cast Google in an ill-fitting role.
The fact that Google apparently has a copy of every Android user’s Wi-Fi passwords hasn’t helped its reputation.
Google isn’t out to get us. It is a benevolent genius starchild of a company intent on changing how we interact with information. Given how much we lean on information nowadays, I’m glad Google takes the job so seriously. Yes, there will be hiccups here and there, but it’s not as though Google is some masterful scheme to steal your identity.
Google gives everyone a bit of a baseline, the same Internet toolkit. Google Docs is essentially Microsoft Word in the sky for free. Gmail is the staple email service. Google Calendar is compatible with Android and iPhone alike, and the list goes on and on. All these things that used to be the stuff of boundless Internet fantasy are here today in the real world, and they’re free.
Did you consider that all the legal issues the company raises might stem from the fact that Google is routinely stepping into new territory, forcing the legal system to keep up with the times? Google CEO Larry Page has even said he wants a totally separate world where tech companies can conduct experiments without government interference.
When the Internet was coming into its bumbling adolescence, it was a wild time of hypothesis and experimentation. Given this perpetually-growing network of computers, people got to work building cool new stuff. We can use the Internet to reserve a library book! Order a pizza! Meet a new squeeze! Get pet food delivered to our homes!
This remembered sense of wondergasm and potential doesn’t seem to be here anymore. Where it seems like most tech companies are happy to complete a derivative tech world circle — “Foursquare for BDSM enthusiasts,” “Instagram for poets” etc. — Google is glad to run into the fringes and see what happens. A car that drives itself. A computer for your face.
I tend to think of Google as an advertising company that simply makes WAY more money than the others, run by people who are nerdy, passionate inventors. Those sweet advertising and search dollars are more or less a means to an end as Google develops cool, new stuff and disappointing flops alike.
We can be the people wise enough to hold off and let the collective brilliance of Google’s engineers and creatives (don’t tell me those aren’t brilliant people) guide the company’s route, so why don’t we? Smart people working on what smart people find interesting. Doesn’t that sound pretty great?
So far, this approach has gone well, effectively leading to the development of a new foundation of the Internet, so to speak.
Others tools (Google Keep, for instance) will be useless, like too-small scissors on the Swiss Army Knife. But it doesn’t make sense to me to go on and on about how bad the scissors are. You don’t have to use them. You can patronize other companies that specialize in scissors!
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