March 22, 2010

The Browser Borg

My computer has caught a bad case of the Google Creep.

It only came to my attention because my bookmarks all disappeared. Then later, when I logged into my google mail account, POOF! They were all magically back. I realized that at some point, Google “volunteered” to manage my bookmarks without me noticing. Whatever used to manage my bookmarks before is mysteriously gone, perhaps murdered! and I do not remember what it was, even. Google ate it and wiped all memory of it from the earth.

Google is INSIDEOUS that way. Most recently, Google has sent a little tab to pop up and ask me if I want to engage Google Side Wiki NOW or LATER. I can click later and put OFF the inevitable moment when I WILL engage the Side Wiki, either by choice or via a mismouse when the questions comes up for the umpty-thousandth time. But I cannot decline. There is no option for "I do not want a Side Wiki," or “Never, and please stop asking me.” I need an option that says, "GO! AWAY! I do not even want to know what a Side Wiki IS,” but this is also not on my list of choices.

Also without me noticing, Google became my constant browsing companion. In other words, I no longer have to go to to google anything, because google has gotten itself a little tabby bit up in my browser. It is always there.

Even the WORD has even become pervasive, as you can see above, “Google it,” has replaced “Look it up.” In fact the other day, sitting in a coffee house with a friend and chatting while her laptop booted, we were trying to remember the name of the actor in a movie we wanted to see. Her computer finished booting and she opened her browser and her home page was Yahoo! Without thinking, I said, “Oh GOOD, there is Yahoo!, we can google it,” as if googling a thing was something one could do on Yahoo!.

But Google did not stop with infesting my tech-vocabulary. It has left my computer---heck it has left my OFFICE---and now has the run of the house. Yesterday my kids asked me if we had any grapes left, and I told them I did not know, they should “go google the fridge and see.”

Ze Frank used to say in a robotic voice, “Google is our dear and glorious leader” each time he mentioned it, and now I begin to see why. Google wants me to drink the microbot laden Kool-Aid. Google is the eye on the other end of the camera in my laptop that may be peering at me whilst I type all unbeknownsting. Google sees all, remembers all, catalogs and collates all, so google can put me-tailored ads in the side of my browser saying that women my age who live in my town are recommending specific products to buy to make my life googli-tastic.

Google is creeeeeeeping, and I’m creeped out.

Posted by joshilyn at March 22, 2010 8:42 AM


Posted by: Jess at March 22, 2010 9:08 AM

You MUST read the short story "Scroogled" by Cory Doctorow. I have had my students read it in my class, and it is great. It was first published in Radar magazine and talks about when Google goes evil!

Posted by: Linda Sherwood at March 22, 2010 10:10 AM

I'm very afraid now. Just FYI.

Posted by: Heather at March 22, 2010 10:52 AM

Even the name "Google" seems gently friendly on the surface, doesn't it? I mean, how can something that sounds so nice and silly be dangerous?

Of course after a while it starts to look just plain stupid, but that's not the point either.

We're now all a part of the vast Google entity. The Matrix is REAL!

Posted by: Fran at March 22, 2010 10:53 AM

Oh, I'm so with you on this. It gives me the wiggins when I'm online and I'm seeing ads that say, Special Deal on that particular kind of sushi that 41 year old women in San Diego seem to like so much -- I'm talking to YOU Aimee. It's very Minority Report, and I do not like it.

Posted by: Aimee at March 22, 2010 11:27 AM

It's only a few years late. 1984 ring a bell? BIG BROTHER GOOGLE IS WATCHING...

Posted by: Chris of the Woodwork at March 22, 2010 11:50 AM

I really hate that "now or later" thing. I just know that sometime, when I'm in a tearing hurry and just want to look up a train timetable, I'll click "now" and have the whole machine tied in a knot for the next eleventy hours while it throws dialogue boxes about licence acceptance and custom instal options at me...

Sorry, no, DIALOG boxes about LICENSE acceptance and custom INSTALL options (because I'm not alienated enough by it already without it doing the whole process in US English)...

Posted by: Liz at March 22, 2010 4:24 PM

I realized Big Brother's name is Google the day I was eating a chocolate muffin (that I'd made the night before) while I checked my gmail. There were NO emails about chocolate muffins in the inbox. But the ad at the top of the gmail screen was "Tips for better chocolate muffins."
I slowly turned around to see if anyone was watching me eat that muffin. It was truly creepy.

Posted by: Lulu at March 22, 2010 4:51 PM

A friend's 4-year-old recently asked her "Mommy, who invented fun?" As she hesitated - pondering this deep and philosophical question - he said "Never mind, we can just google it."

Assimilation complete.

Posted by: Keenie Beanie at March 22, 2010 7:34 PM

At least those are all harmless infiltration. Imagine being in an interview at yahoo and everything is going fabulously, up until the moment you say "Well, I just googled..." I don't think an interview has ever ended faster.

Posted by: Poppy at March 23, 2010 1:51 AM