…if only just a bit to start4 min read
I don’t believe corporations can be inherently “good” or “evil.” However, I believe it is important to consider the motivations behind companies’ business models, and better understand how they track you, use your data, etc.
In the case of Google, their primary business model and business incentives are to gather as much information about you as possible, to safeguard it for their own uses, and to use it to present ads that you’re likely to click on. Ultimately, Google is an ad company; their other ventures exist primarily to funnel money into their ad business, to ensure more people are using the web (thus funneling money into their ad business), or to ensure they’re not shut out from emerging technologies (and thus can further funnel money into their ad business).
First, a disclaimer: I don’t believe Google is evil, and generally I believe they do an incredible job of protecting your data from others. They have made some excellent products, significantly invested in open source technologies, and done a lot of what I would consider to be good in the world of technology.
However, the entire model of the company seems to be misaligned with my personal interests, so relying on them for everything seems shortsighted. The emergence of mass data collection and extreme ad targeting can be attributed—at least in part—to Google’s online dominance. I may be frequently accused of being a Google fanboy (becuase I use a Pixel phone and prefer some Google products to others made by Apple or Microsoft), but I have always tried to point out these misaligned incentives as much as possible. I think it is important for each person to undertand the incentives behind the products they use and to weigh the utility with the risks.
Consequently, I’m attempting to de-Google my life a little bit. For some services, I know and accept the risks versus the utility they bring me. For others, I have decided I would like to give up less of my data to an all-important account that runs my digital life, and support more independent companies whose products’ interests are aligned with mine.
I will keep these lists up-to-date with my progress and links to stand-alone blog posts about each step as I write them:
Most of these were easier than expected. Some weren’t actually products I use. Expect blog posts for each one.
- Chrome → Firefox (and others)
- Google Passwords → Firefox (and others)
- Gmail → Fastmail
- Google Podcasts → Pocket Casts
- Google Search → Startpage.com
Since adopting Fastmail for my email, I’m working on migrating my calendar and contacts over. While Fastmail offers bulk imports, I think it’s a good opportunity to start fresh. One anticipated difficulty will be shared Google calendars that we use. I’ll write up the experiences once they’re done!
- Google Calendar → Fastmail
- Google Contacts → Fastmail
I definitely want to migrate away from these, but am struggling to find or decide on good replacements. I’ll write posts as I find replacements that work well for me.
- Google Drive
- Google Keep
- Google News
- Google Shopping
- Google Tasks
❌️ Not Planning On It (Soon)
Some of these I don’t really plan to replace any time soon, while others I would like to but don’t see good alternatives. I’ll try to get into each one and my thinking in a separate blog post.
- Google Duo
- Google Fi
- Google Fit
- Google Home
- Google Maps
- Google Pay
- Google Photos
- Google Play
- Google Translate
- YouTube Music
Did I miss anything major? Let me know on social media, or send me an email at blog [at] this website. :)