Friday, February 10, 2006

Why Not Give Google A Key To Your House?

Alright, so Google announced a new version of its desktop search software. The most interesting feature of which is, that you can have a shared index for multiple computers. The problem with this feature is, that in order to use it you must agree to have your data stored on a Google Server*.

As usual lots of people are getting very exciting about it, so I felt the need for a sceptic voice:

  • Google is not good. Google is a publicly traded company, as such it is its goal to make money (for its shareholders), it will only follow its motto ("Don't be evil") as long as it does not interfere with this goal.
  • Google Desktop is part of a "plot" of Google to get access to data stores that are searchable exclusively through Google. Once Google has enough exclusive data, it will have a monopoly in the search market and will be very hard to challenge. This will stiffle innovation in the long run.
  • You are already giving Google an incredible amount of data about your personal life. Be aware that this data is not totally safe - neither from hackers nor governments. Google may later decide to use this data in ways you don't like - if by this time you are totally dependent on Google you may not have an alternative but to agree.

Don't get my wrong - I like Google and would love to work there (Heck, I'm even publishing this using a (great) free service supplied by Google). I don't consider it evil for a company to try to make money - but there seem to be lots of people that think Google is somehow a special, magical company - thats a view I don't share!

* Although it seems that this is only temporarly. The data is only stored on the Google Server until it is transfered to all your computers. Only data that is indexed after you enabled the shared index is shared. Any computer receives only the data about files indexed on other computers after(!) this computer enabled shared indexing. So assume that you have a computer A at work and computer B at home - you enabled the shared index functionality on your computer A on the 10th of February and on computer B on the 1st of March. Now the Google Desktop Index of computer B will only contain those files indexed on computer A after the 1st of March (and those from computer B - obviously).