February 07, 2005


     Well, you've all seen google. And why wouldn't you have? It's a fantastic site that provides quick, reliable searches that are normally very relevant to what you were looking for. They also provide a non-invasive form of advertising that many websites have found to be very profitable while not being in your face or driving away customers. They moved on to provide the same service in many languages, and translation services for many of those languages they offered. Google was, by now, well renowned for doing such a fantastic job while continuing to refuse pop-up and banner advertising. In fact, to make money, they developed a whole new kind of advertising. Text advertising.
     Text advertising was pretty much a completely revolutionary kind of advertising. Rather than getting up in your face about ever plausible thing you could ever not know you needed, it simply placed a clip of each companies philosophy, statement, advertisment, or relevent search information under a title describing the product. Despite the fact that it seems like many people would ignore and avoid these "sponsored links," but many people clicked through and found what they were looking for. Google spread this new form of advertising around. People could now include "ads by google" in their web pages, and be paid a percent of profits made by google on a monthly basis. Google started producing some real revenue, and became quite the superpower on the net. It became important to be ranked high on google's page-ranking system. Profits made by having high page ranks became evident to advertisers, and a new form of spam was born.
     Page-rank spamming is a generally new kind of spamming. It involves providing links through google's advertising programs to boost the page's overall rank on google. This new form of spam didn't become to common until blogs and blog spamming came to be. All the sudden you see a dark side to google's mounting power. Though google's advertising specifically was not a bad thing, links through regular spam to the same places was getting to be a problem. Fortunately, the internet's ingenunity blocks most of any kind of spam, and so this new form wasn't to much of a problem. But the tint to google's power was still there. Then came gmail.
     Gmail offered something that no other free email client could boast: 1 gigabyte of storage. Most free email services offered a much more reasonable amount for a free system. Hotmail offered 2 megabytes, and yahoo offered something similar. For those of you who need some perspective that is .002% of the amount of storage gmail is offering. But how could google plausibly do this? What could possibly fuel this juggernaut of a campaign? What did we sacrifice to gain this? Our privacy.
     Google's new Gmail service scans all your emails and displays relevant text advertising. Now, according to the terms of service none of this is read by human eyes before you open your email, but the fact that anything reads your personal and private messages before you do is a scary thought. Now although google garantees that no one will read your email and assures you that all the other email services scan you email as well there's something slighly more errie and unnerving about opening your email from your friend about personal issues and recieveing pharmaceutical advertisements. Even moreso when your friend writes a poem or something just for you and you recieve advertisments relating to it. And the fact that it could be storing any of this information for future reference is terrifying in and of itself. Already google keeps track of what you serach for, what's to say that they won't keep track of what you're emailing about?
     But all of this is just personal paranoia. I hate letting others know about my personal life. I like to have others know my ideas and what I will and won't stand for, but to have someone know what I'm using google for is just plain creepy. And even moreso than that, is having someone know what I'm emailing about. But what has really crossed my bounderies as to what google has been expanding into is google desktop. Google desktop is a new piece of software that allows people to search their own computer using the same trusty, reliable system that google has. Well what I'm concerned about is the fact that google's gmail, in it's terms of service agreement mentions government intervention THREE TIMES, and in their privacy statement, they also mention that they may disclose personal information. This meaning that any piece of information google has on you could be searched if google is requested to reveal that information from the government. And, as far as I know, it doesn't specify WHICH government. This didn't seem so threatening until google's software integrated with people computers. Google toolbar and google desktop have now made this internet juggernaut of power to frightening for me too keep silent about. I'm wondering what kind of monster we've produced, and will it take over everything? It now has merged with web.archive.org, and contains a huge database of old websites, it's bought out keyhole (and as a byproduct now contains a comprehensive image of the planet), and it offers email that no other company can compete with. Is anyone else getting a "big brother" vibe from this? Doesn't it seem like google may have been taken over by the government, and is now using it's power to monitor a lot more than it should? Seems like it to me, and that freaks the SHIT out of me.

Posted by Kickmyassman at February 7, 2005 11:38 PM

Damn, that is kinda scary, man! BUT... when they scan the emails, I don't think the machines notice anything other than the word they're looking for, to save time on Google's end. But I could be wrong..

Posted by: Sam at February 8, 2005 06:13 PM

Well, the rest of us don't read 1984 until 2nd semester. You were entranced by it in 7th grade, so you would probably have the right to get a bit freaked out by a big brother thing. I think Google text advertisements should go back to being for public sites only. Finally a problem has come out of the previously perfect GMail. Sigh...

Posted by: Eric at February 8, 2005 08:04 PM

im scared kit. hold me.

but im sure you can protect us with your valiant efforts against big business type stuff and the government, and your supreme paranoia!

i just had an image of you wearing a full metal armor suit with a red feather in the top and weilding a mighty sword towards the gullet of some large and formible evil internet dragon. and damn, was it a cool image.

Posted by: alex at February 9, 2005 09:59 PM
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