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My divorce from Google - One year later

Tom Henderson | April 3, 2013
Google's Terms of Service and Privacy Statement motivated me to give up over 3,000 Google+ Friends, and to stop using the Google search engine and the rest of their products, attractive as they were. Finding alternatives is definitely do-able. Here's where I am, one year later.

But that's about it. I was slowed down, temporarily. No longer.

How I've replaced Google

Search is DuckDuckGo. Has some strange features in it, and reminds me of the value of using Boolean logic in queries, like the old days of search. On a rare day, I might use Yahoo! I'm still looking for an actual Craigslist search engine that doesn't sputter.

Mail. I always had my own email server, and use it primarily. You'll find me using Yahoo! Classic, too, although they've just discontinued the Classic version.

Maps. Mapquest is ok. Yahoo! Maps are my go-to, either choice with script-blocking. The Yahoo! Maps UI isn't very good, but the maps are quite usable. The map apps don't care that I block their scripts. I kill their cookies afterwards, although I doubt this helps.

Music and Videos. YouTube was the best, and for non-music how-to videos, too. Gone. Spotify is my new music source, and they're heaven sent, with 99%+ of the music I want, which is admittedly often older stuff. Vimeo has some videos, and I often use DuckDuckGo to search for videos if I simply must, which usually entails looking at Terms of Service, Privacy Notices, and even then, blocking scripts and erasing cookies. I erase cookies on almost a daily basis.

Images. I maintain a Flickr and Shutterfly account, both of them entirely bolted down for private, invitation-only viewing.

Social Networking. Facebook is for friends/family; Linked-In is public. Facebook can be privatized, and will be audited for the next couple of decades as an FTC settlement. That doesn't mean I trust them. Most people's Facebook identities are poorly protected, and I avoid posting there. Linked-In is public and my participation is fully public as my public life. Twitter? I tweet once in a while.

GPS. I don't use it, even in a car. I'm old-school as I like printed maps.

Google Translation. Babelfish is ok. Others do well, too. None are as good as I would like.

Apps. Amazon is an alternative to the GooglePlay app retailer, but I'm not very big on apps. I don't use Google Books at all. I rarely use digital books. I usually obtain books in whatever format, from the local public library, which is excellent. I rarely use online "office-like apps".

Aftermath observations: Search and content have changed

Seeing Google's presence is now odd. It's kind of like seeing your ex at a shopping mall. There's a perfunctory and polite hello, how's the folks, and you move on. There are a few pangs. Memories. But I've moved on, and there is nothing in the Google app cavalcade that I need at all. Not a thing.

Indeed Google's been keen to cut away applications that it believes are barnacles on its bow. I once felt Google was a bunch of barnacles on my bow. As Slate points out, there are many dead bodies in the Google Graveyard. I'm reminded of New Orleans, and the mausoleums there, some highly ornamented, others more like a potter's field. People put time and effort into the development of them, and some caught on, if only to comparatively small audiences -- and perhaps ones that didn't cause heartburn at Microsoft or Apple's DevOps. Don't fall in love; they die young.


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