As a person that lives his life relatively out loud via this blog and various social networking sites, one would think that I don’t really give two flips about my privacy. Those that know me in person probably know that what I share here is a good snapshot of how I am in real life, but not the complete picture of what exactly I’m about. Heck, I can probably count the number of people that _really_ get me on two hands. But nevertheless, I joined the whole social networking craze early on with this blog thingee here back in 2001 and I’ve been plugging along since.
Now I like the idea of social networking online; Earl and I have made many friends via the internet and cherish a few people that we have met here. The internet allows us the ability to see that we are not alone in how we feel on any given subject and that’s a great thing. I think it’s great when technology is used in this way, albeit as long as it’s in a cautious manner.
Yesterday the rapidly growing behemoth called Google announced a new product: Google Buzz. This is another attempt from Google to join into the social networking frenzy gripping the online world right. It’s like a combination of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare integrated into their popular e-mail service, Gmail.
Now before I get a little ranty, I’m going to say a few preceding statements before the message. First of all, I know all too well that Google derives it’s income from ad revenue. Honestly, I hate that as I hate ads, no matter how coy they try to be. And while Google’s mission is to “not be evil”, they groom the data that they gather and tailor ads to specifically fit you. So they might not know the contents of my Gmail but they see particular phrases or keywords and select advertising to share with me based on this; for example if I receive an e-mail telling me how great Pepsi Throwback is, they might show me an ad telling me how great Coke Classic is.
Now Gmail offers some amazing spam protection and it’s web interface is clean enough and devoid of hiccups and burps enough to make it quite attractive, despite this scanning of key phrases to generate ad revenue. In fact, I have enjoyed Gmail’s service so much that I have funneled the dozen or so e-mail accounts I have into Gmail so I can have everything in an easily accessible place.
With the announcement of Google Buzz, this Facebook/Twitter/FourSquare wannabe, my social networking is now integrated into my e-mail. When Google Buzz was activated on my account yesterday afternoon, imagine my surprise when it suggested that I share my social networking status updates with folks that I have e-mailed back and forth about job opportunities with in the past. Yes, Google felt it would be great to include the folks that have my resume on my status updates, which contain such colorful nuggets as:
“When a bunch of iPad users get together, do their clock cycles synch?”
Lovely. Naturally, Google Buzz demands that I have a photo on my profile and it selected one of me. It’s not exactly a headshot but it’s one that I would consider kind of hot.
At least they have a respectable sense of good visuals.
Here’s the thing. My e-mail is sacred. I have had e-mail since 1984 and I’m not about to start sharing the contents of e-mail with an entire distribution list. Hell, that’s one thing that Earl learned very early on in our relationship that I tend to get hysterical about. My e-mail is *mine*. I don’t want it sliced, diced, spun or mutilated and I sure as hell don’t want it included in my social networking ventures.
So I turned off the Buzz as soon as I realised what it wanted to do.
Then I started getting paranoid. If Google was so hip on sharing my existence in this manner, where else would be information be turning up? So today I started filtering my e-mail elsewhere, dropped my Google Reader subscriptions (I do my blog reading in Safari again), dropped my contact list synchronization with Google and Gmail and now I’m looking for a respectable replacement for Google Calendar.
Tomorrow I order my new tinfoil hat.