Saturday, February 04, 2012

Google and Facebook: how Chrome supports life with an dully evil corporation

Just three years ago Facebook's Gordon's Evil Score was 12, and Google was a mere 6. Today, 3 months after Google's day of infamy, I'd give Google 10, Facebook 8, and Apple a 6. (Philip Morris gets 15. Evil is relative.)

These days Facebook is less evil than Google 2.0, probably because Facebook has been on pre-IPO best behavior. Post-IPO I expect 'em to hang with Google in the gray zone of generic AT&T-style corporate badness. After all, both companies package and sell us.

So why is Facebook's badness boring, and Google's badness Bad?

It's because we always knew Facebook was evil. I never gave FB anything I couldn't walk away from. If Facebook went away tomorrow, I'd be slightly sad.

Google though, Google once made me smarter. Our family uses Google Apps. My shared images are in Google's web albums. A lot of my external memory is Google dependent (so losing Google Reader shares felt like a mini-lobotomy). Google search, born in the day of the ad-infested Portal, was beautiful.

Google though, Google was going to make free the world's knowledge.

Google though, Google wants to build a sentient AI. Do we want our first sentient AI born of our bad parents?

That's why Google's Page-driven race to the Darkseid matters a lot more than Facebook's perennial villainy. We loved Google, we trusted Google,  we married Goole and made Data together -- and we were chumps. (Some of us are still in denial.)

What now? Well, Google hasn't turned into Philip Morris -- and it probably never will. They've just become as evil as most publicly traded corporations -- and a lot of us work for those. Besides, we can't completely divorce. Think of the Data. [1]

So I'm still living with Google. Yeah, I did try Bing. Have you ever used Bing? Go and give it a try. I'll wait here for a while. Right. Even EvilGoogle is better than Bing.

I'm living with Google, but I'm keeping my distance. Coincidentally (?) Chrome recently made this much easier.

Chrome now supports client-side identity management. On my Mac the Preferences:Personal Stuff menu has a "Users" section. A "User" is simply a separate identity, where an "identity" is a set of cookies, credentials, bookmarks, cache and so on. Optionally, a "User" on Chrome can be associated with a Google account, and Chrome/Google credentials and bookmarks sync between those accounts. These don't have to be Google+ accounts [2]. If you link a Chrome User to a non-Google+ account, you're basically using GoogleMinus. That's what I do.

In Chrome I currently switch between 5 Users as needed, each with a paired Google account. One user is my original TrueName "113" Google account. I deleted that account's G+ Profile, so this "User" gives me something of an old-style GoogleMinus experience. This account owns my Google Docs, my Email, my Calendar, and way too many Google properties to remember (including the remnants of Google Reader social.)

I use my G+ John Gordon identity with Blogger [3] and Google Reader (I moved GR subscriptions over to this account). I have yet another identity associated with my corporate work, another with our family domain, and then 1-2 more to make it easy to switch between the kid's Google accounts [4].

Google Chrome has made it easier to live with Google 2.0, but it's an uneasy relationship. Evil Facebook is fine -- because I don't care. Evil Google is not a good long term relationship. I'm seeing other services now, services like and the shared items I post there. It will take decades, but I'm hoping true alternatives to Google will emerge. Alternatives that charge real money for their services. That's how I'll know they're worth being with.

[1] It's no coincidence that when Google turned evil, the Data Liberation team fell silent.
[2] For now, though in future that might be impossible to avoid.
[3] Google's blogs can have multiple contributors, so I just made John Gordon an admin on blogs that started with John F. as admin. Early on Google forbade pseudonyms in G+ accounts; now they only require that pseudonyms "appear" to be well formed, generic names not associated with celebrities or historic figures.
[4] All through our family domain. They don't know the passwords.

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