Open Source Subnet An independent Open Source community View more

Dear Google: It's not you, it's me

I've become too dependent on Google's services for storing my data. I think it's time we start seeing other people.

Google logo fisheye
Credit: Kristina Alexanderson via Flickr

Dear Google,

I stand before you today a broken man, beholden to the whims and wiles of a distant, faceless corporate master. In case it wasn't clear – that's you, Google. You broke me.

You see, 10 years ago I was the master of my own destiny. My data was my own. When I checked my email it was downloaded to whatever computer I was using and stored locally... until I needed to format my drive and reinstall my OS (at which point I usually lost my mailbox file because I, of course, forgot to back it up first). When I took a picture, I stored it on my hard drive until I either burned it to a CD/DVD or accidentally deleted it.

Did I lose my data on a regular basis? Yes. Yes, I did. Text files with notes and to-do lists. Contacts. Calendar data. Save games. The MP3s of my entire CD collection that I had just finished ripping. Even source code. I lost it all, over and over again.

Sometimes it was my fault. OK. Usually, it was my fault – I simply either forgot to back up my files or I was too damned lazy and, somehow, believed that the magical backup fairy would take care of everything. Sometimes it was the fault of a failing backup drive... or a Zip disk that started clicking at me maniacally like some sort of demonic cicada.

But whatever the cause, I felt in control. My data was right there (hopefully). I never needed an Internet connection. I never relied on the 24/7 operation of some remote servers running in the cloud. I felt... powerful. My files were my own and I could, quite literally, reach out and touch whatever disk they were stored on.

Those days are long gone. Now, if my Internet connection drops out, I'm dead in the water. Dear heavens, Google, without an active connection to your servers I am lost, adrift in a sea of nothingness.

I don't have a local MP3/Ogg collection anymore – now I just use Google Play Music. Because it's easy.

I don't keep local backups of my contacts or email anymore – again... Google services. Because of that "easy" thing I was talking about earlier.

Hell, I don't even have a normal phone anymore, opting to use Google Voice and Hangouts for all my phone calling (and even texting) needs. Guess why? Easy.

All of which means I have traded control over my own data for a boost in simplicity. And you know what they say – "those who would give up essential data control to purchase a little temporary simplicity deserve neither data control nor simplicity." Or something like that.

The worst part of it? I saw this coming. I even warned myself – and others – about this very thing. And yet... here I am, a slave to the sweet, sweet Google fruits. Unable to break myself free of chains of convenient online data and services.

I'm not sure how. Maybe I'll setup a server with Own Cloud – or possibly something similar – so that I can still have a server, but with more control. Or perhaps I'll simply start using a wider variety of services so all of my eggs aren't piled into the Google-Basket-O-Eggs quite so highly.

Either way, Google and Google's services... I'm putting you on notice. Your days in my computing life are numbered. Yes. This my way of saying, "we should start seeing other people."

Except for Google Voice and Hangouts. I'm keeping those forever. That stuff is just too good to give up.

Hugs and kisses,

Bryan Lunduke

To comment on this article and other Network World content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter stream.
Must read: Hidden Cause of Slow Internet and how to fix it
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.