Archive | July, 2011

Is Google Taking Over our Lives?

15 Jul

I remember when I was a kid sitting in math class and someone introduced the concept of a Google to me for the first time.  Let me preface this by saying that I both hate and suck at math, but the idea of 1 with 100 zeroes behind it was somehow fascinating.  It was the closest thing to infinity that I had ever considered.  Now, as I look at how intertwined Google is in my day to day life, I wonder if Larry Page and Sergey Brin had the same thoughts sitting in their math classes.

My first online experience was with my old IBM clone, dialing into BBS servers on a 2400 baud modem in 1991.  Now, I sit at a computer with two flat screens and an Ethernet connection and access to anything my mind can conceive (and many things it wishes it has never seen).  My first email account was with Yahoo!, who was tops back in ’98.  I still have that account, more for sentimental value than anything else.  It gets checked about once a month.  Yahoo! used to be the king of all things internet related.  They ruled the email and search world, had games and rudimentary social networking features.  Everyone jumped on that bandwagon and loved it.

Then along comes Google.  Touted as the next thing in search engines and designed to help you find lemon colored socks for your puppy, it made Yahoo! look like a joke.  Google was so popular that it quickly became the number one search platform on the internet.  Now, Google has become a verb as well as a noun. Just Google it.  Little did we know that within a few short years, Google would be much more than a search engine.

Enter Gmail.  As with their search engine, Google came along and crushed Yahoo!’s email client.  As of right now, Gmail is the number one rated free email service on the planet.  Yahoo?  They are in a distant fifth place.  Sorry folks.  I was drooling at the mouth thinking about having access to a Gmail account.  I waited and waited for that invitation to come by text.  And I didn’t text back then!  I got lucky and did get an invite, and was able to secure a great Gmail address for myself.  I have never looked back.  Gmail may be the best external email client I have ever used.  I swear by it and recommend it to everyone I know.  I have integrated it into Outlook on my old computer, and now into Entourage and Mail on my Mac. Which brings me to my phone.

If I flip that skinny little piece of technology over, the first thing I see on the back is HTC in big, shiny letters.  But if I look down at the bottom, whose logo do I see?  Why, it’s Google.  They are EVERYWHERE.  When I set up my phone for the first time, it asked me to create a Gmail account.  Wow, that is a bit presumptuous.  Glad I already had one.  And that I love it.  (Interesting side note for you iOS users.  Apple and Google are now the single biggest competitors in the wireless market.  Even the iPhone wants you to have a Gmail account to use email with their devices.  What happens when Google starts making software for the iPhone?)  When I hit the little search button, it uses Google technology to look for stuff in my phone and online at the same time.  It is my go-to answer machine.  It pisses off my fiancee on a regular basis because if there is something I can’t answer off the top of my head, I just hit that little button, type in what I am looking for and it appears!  God love the search feature.

Now, you may be wondering how much more I can talk about Google.  I have touted the online search engine, the email, and the technology built into my little crack-phone.  But I am not done yet.  Not by a long shot.  Google Sites has given me the ability to build a website with which I can share information about my upcoming wedding (104 days remain as of this posting) with the world.  Google Analytics is like instant heroin for data junkies.  I have that code tied to my website.  With the click of a mouse, I can cyber-stalk the people who have visited my site.  I can see locations, times, pages viewed, browsers used; pretty much anything.  Hell, without Google, I would have had to find somewhere else to share my random thoughts with the two or three of you who actually choose to read them.

Enter Google+.  I am still not quite sure how to take this whole “jumping off the deep end into the social networking pool” bit, but my satisfaction with other Google products has been extremely good, so I am going to give it a shot.  I got my invite last week, got in, and started putting people in circles like some biologist putting bacteria into petri dishes to study under a microscope.  What the hell is wrong with this picture?  I will admit, I was a Zuckerberg whore (and still am) and probably spend more time on Facebook than I should.  I ditched MySpace years ago, too simple and stupid.  I can’t tell you of anyone I know that isn’t on Facebook at this point.  It seems to be how we communicate with everyone all the time.  The irony of Google+ is that I can get my Google status to automatically update my Facebook status.  The ultimate cyber-finger to MZ?  Who knows.  I hope that it takes off, but that just pulls me deeper and deeper into the Goobyss.

Overall, even though it seems Google is now as pervasive in our daily lives as say, breathing, I have to admit it has made my life easier and more interesting.  All the information I want is there at the touch of a button.  All the information I have that you DON”T want to hear about is another button away; this one just reads “send”. Google is starting to live up to the image I had of it way back in math class.  As close to infinity as I can consider.