I promised a post on online word processors and that is coming but tonight I wanted to write about google. I read tonight that they have acquired JotSpot – a wiki site. Coming on the heels of YouTube and Google Docs (formerly writely) they have grown to a very impressive collection of web applications. They also have a pretty comprehensive spreadsheet application. Add to that Blogger, Gmail, Orkut, Google Talk, Picasa, Google Reader and a comprehensive list of specialized search engines and you have what constitutes a massive amount of data!
There is a convenience factor having just one password to login to all those services. If you don’t have an expensive office program you can do most of what you need online (add a database and a presentation program, some graphics apps and oops, throw in a browser and an operating system – wait, that’s microsoft LOL) and with all the open source software available you can complete the picture for little or no cost for software. I wonder where this will go in the future. And I wonder about all the data floating around out there. In high school I read the book “1984” and we used to talk a lot about “big brother” is watching you (that was the early seventies and we meant the government and whoever else we felt was part of the establishment). In some ways it seems to me that we have helped bring about the reality of what was a slightly paranoid reaction to a generational gap. We vote away our rights to obtain a temporary peace of mind and we do our banking, bill paying, purchasing, and journal keeping on the internet. Our kids share some of the most intimate details of their lives with complete strangers and corporations and college recruiters look at those details before making decisions about their offline futures.
I love having a front-row seat to all the changes and I hope that we pay close attention and make the technology work for us instead of the other way around. We are a society of busy people running from one end of the day to the other. I recently had some very bad experiences with the medical profession and most of what happened was due to people not paying attention. I think that sums up a lot of what is wrong with our world these days. We are in such a hurry that we are not paying attention and sooner or later those things that slip by have a way of catching up with us. My mother used to tell us “the chickens always come home to roost”. It’s funny how the older I get the more wisdom she seemed to possess. I think that the faster things change the more we need to pay attention to where we are and where we want to go.
Google isn’t good or bad – it’s just big and fast. It’s a tool and and a very powerful one. Power tools are wonderful and each one has a specific purpose. My experience with power tools is that you have to respect them. You should learn the proper way to use them and take safety precautions. You should use them for the purpose they were intended for, you don’t leave them on around unattended children and you don’t let them take over the garage.