Google recently turned 15 years old. In that short time, the company has grown to become ubiquitous with Internet search. Because Google is so beneficial to so many lives, the milestone event could be celebrated with joy and happiness. A recent Google Doodle illustrates that. But me, I’m still apprehensive towards Google. Is this feeling unwarranted? If so, can I actually forgive Google? If not, what am I going to do about it?
In addition to search, Google offers lots of web services — many are free. Because these services are free, advertisements are used to generate revenue. And because advertisers want to gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns, user tracking becomes critical. That’s the trade with Google. To get access to these free services, Google wants to know more about you. The new saying I’ve been seeing online lately goes something like this, “If the product is free, then you become the product.”
A lot of people don’t seem to mind. And for a long time, I didn’t care either. If I’ve got nothing to hide, what do I care? It’s not a big secret that I like photography, video games and web development. What do I care if advertisers know it too — especially if it’s not so intrusive? If I’m visiting a website, wouldn’t I rather see an advertisement that’s relevant to me?
This site is almost as old as Google. The 15 year anniversary of Photics.com is later this year. Not too long ago, I almost made it big. It wasn’t billions of dollars, but it could have been enough to live comfortably. I finally had a hit game and the site was seeing hundreds-of-thousands of visitors in a single month. Like many Google services, my game was advertisement based. I tried using AdSense to make money, but Google didn’t want to pay me. This was before Google supported advertisements in apps, so they said I violated their user agreement.
There was no arguing with a robot. The only way to fight the machine was with another machine — Android. Because I was becoming a popular Android developer, I was able to explain the situation to the Android team. They then got word back to the AdSense team. My AdSense account was reinstated — but with a zero dollar balance.
That didn’t seem fair to me, but I kept trying. And over the years, I kept seeing Google flaws. These little problems became my problem. From my perspective, Google was just this unfeeling machine. Maybe there are people behind the machine, but they didn’t seem so eager to chat. It felt like there was a set process for the way Google managed things. If a problem didn’t fit within the system, it was ignored. Like a robot, it’s great for certain tasks, but it’s not adaptable — a requirement for all lifeforms.
So, I simply removed most Google services from this website — no more AdSense, Google Analytics or Android apps. (The only thing left is the XML sitemap. I let Google and Bing know of new content on this website.)
I tried getting away from AdSense by using AdMob, but then Google just bought them up. That was really starting to bother me. It’s been difficult to find a competitor to Google. The Internet was not meant to funnel through a handful of websites. Surely there’s more to life than Twitter, FaceBook and Google. These few companies have their tentacles all over the web. Even if you visit a website that isn’t run by Google, your visitor data could still be sent to Google. That’s because of the AdSense / Analytics combo. Millions of webmasters out there use Google services. While I try to resist the flood, does it really make a difference?