For now.

When it comes down to it, benevolent dictatorship resting on a perfectly anarchistic base is the only way to go. Democracy is too easily bought. Free Market Forces do not make everything all nice and efficient and stuff. Wherever information can be OpenSource and OpenAccess it should be; No institution should be allowed to exist for more than a few years; Somehow the infrastructure needs to be efficient, effective, and free (OpenInfrastructure) and then, everything else, we’ll let Google take care of.

Or at least that’s the plan for now. And when Google goes evil? Revolution!!!!!

If you are a Googleois you’ve probably seen this presentation:

Click here to see what I believe is a google plus thingie that turns automatically somehow into a powerpointlike thingie… whatever, just click.

Google plus is, in fact, a Facebook replacement. You can argue all you want about how it is different from or similar to or not different from or not similar to Facebook. The point is that if Facebook went down tomorrow for an extended period of time for some reason, when it came back a lot of us would be using Google+ for the Facebook stuff we were previously doing, and not bother with Facebook anymore. It does replace Facebook, yet is different (and different in a way that incorporates some twitteresque features). Mostly it is different because it works better. For now.

But the key is the cloud bit. This became especially apparent to me using a mobile device. I was using a Google+ app and noticed that there was a tab to check my email, so I did. Then there was a button to look at Google Docs so I did. And then I checked Google RSS reader. Holy crap. The dumb little mobile G+ app gave access to … the cloud! In a somewhat clunky way because of bad design of the app, but still, all within one app. Most interesting, the dumb little Google+ App overcame the main feature that seems to have been inserted into the iDevice operating systems: Software no longer inter-operates and data (files and stuff) are no longer accessible by the user.

And that cloud is, of course, what we see on the tool bar of Google+’s screen, which is really the same as the toolbar on the gMail screen and identical with recent changes (implemented last week, I think) to Goolge Calendar, on that screen as well. Oh, it’s on the Picasa screen as well.

I’m not at all sanguine about a single monstrous entity, even if it is one that has as it’s premise “do no evil,” taking over the world. But since the world (of personal computing) is already being run by a single monstrous entity with a side kick with affective personality disorder running about 10 percent of it, why not? If Google can in fact become a significant player along side Microsoft and Apple, bigger than Apple, smaller than Microsoft (for now) then maybe we can get some of that Free Market mojo for a few years and do some housecleaning.

But that’s not the point. The point is that our computer system should know intrinsically about email, calendars, documents, photos, and things you put on a reader as part of it’s guts. A cloud-based “google chrome” system will be a system that has those features as fundamental and given. Everyone else will have to do the same (and to some extent they already have, but poorly). And the implementation of personal computing will shift a bit more towards function and away from marketing. For now.

I’m not sanguine about the cloud as a place to work. I spend too much time on computers that are not connected to the Internet for periods of time. I don’t like the lack of hermit-like independence that the cloud forces me away from. I want my text files, which I mess around with in emacs, on my hard drive, which I organize with Midnight Commander. And I’m only slightly exaggerating.

But I do want to collaborate on the cloud, back up on the cloud, and be all bloggy and stuff on the cloud. And no, Google+ is not a blogging platform. Blogs are a blogging platform. But Google+ does make me realize something: I’ve got to get my blogging integrated somehow into that paradigm.

So I can see that Goggle+ toolbar as a section of my Gnome toolbar. Anybody working on that?

Comments

  1. #1 Rorschach
    July 21, 2011

    The cloud is evil I think. Also, after I registered for G+, now if I surf the net on my (Android) tablet, I get those “share on facebook” links you occasionally encounter on websites displaying my full name. Which is why I went and changed my G+ name to my nym. The whole thing creeps me out slightly from a privacy point of view. Never mind FB selling my info to third parties, you’re ok if you don’t put info there in the first place. But google are nosy bastards.

  2. #2 DuWayne
    July 21, 2011

    I can’t imagine that blogger wouldn’t be included in that cloud – but then you would have to deal with blogger. Even I, with a now rather defunct desire to do it all with Google gave up on blogger though. And it sure doesn’t help someone who’s locked into a whole different platform. That said…

    You can totally blog through google docs, though there are formatting kinks to work out when you are doing so with a non-blogger blog. I rarely do so anymore, mainly because I am forcing myself to learn how to use the clunky and almost, but not entirely non-intuitive MS Office 2010. This has me saving things to SkyDrive, though I still also upload to google docs and using SkyDrive (because you have limited Word functionality, even when using FF in Linux). I fought against it for ages, but fucking MS keeps fucking up the formatting for Word docs created with OO and after a huge presentation disaster with a powepoint created in OO, I just finally gave in.

    I would note with great anger adn irritation, that you can create OO documents with Word – while MS is constantly fucking with OO’s ability to create Word docs. Unfortunately most of my instructors want papers sent to them as Word docs and PPs created in OO do very bad things when you try to view them with MS PP.

    I have yet to try out google+, I just don’t have time right now, but I am curious and will definitely explore it when I have a chance. For now, I must deal with math, comparative government, history pre-1500 and Dave’s newfound obsession with “My Little Pony.” I am really hoping he doesn’t discover the fucking “Carebears,” though I can at least appreciate that he never got his brother’s obsession for “Bob the Builder.”

  3. #3 khan
    July 21, 2011

    “The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination.” Attributed to Voltaire

  4. #4 irenedelse
    July 21, 2011

    @ khan: If I remember correctly, that quote was originally about the Byzantine empire: “A tyranny tempered by assassination.”

    (On the topic of teh Googles… OMG. That’s so true. First thing I noticed when I joined G+ was: “It’s just like FB.”. Second thing: “Oh, there’s also a Twitter-like feed inside”. Third: “Uh, oh, links to my Gmail account and Google profile appear on that black bar at the top… and other links to other Google apps… No wonder they have “circles” in here, we are all being quietly surrounded!”)

  5. #5 embertine
    July 22, 2011

    I lasted two days on Google+, before the targeted spam emails and the creepy friends requests drove me off. Better than the 15 minutes I lasted on Facebook.

  6. #6 Irene Delse
    July 22, 2011

    @ embertine: To be fair, on G+, people can put you in their circles without you having to do the same with them. (A bit like, on Twitter, you can follow people who don’t follow you back.) One feature of Facebook I don’t like is that being “friends” must always be reciprocal.

  7. #7 Irene Delse
    July 22, 2011

    However… I’ve come across a story today on Twitter that’s pretty disenheartening:

    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/bt2p2o

    “Dear Google, I would like to bring to your attention a few things before I disconnect permanently from all of your services. On July 15 2011 you turned off my entire Google account. You had absolutely no reason to do this, despite your automated message telling me your system “perceived a violation.” I did not violate any Terms of Service, either Google’s or account specific ToS, and your refusal to provide me with any proof otherwise makes me absolutely certain of this. And I would like to bring to your attention how much damage your carelessness has done…”

    This guy had tons of photos, articles and emails tied to his Google account, and lost access to everything.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    July 22, 2011

    embertine, that must have been somewhere else, because G+ does not have friend requests. It does have a few creeps, though.

    Irene, I’m sure that’s a very rare event, but it is a distinct possibility. And other things could happen as well, not as quirky, involving change in policy or technology. I would advocate using all Google has to offer but not assuming anything about access to your data … back up on the cloud, but a DIFFERENT cloud. Personally, I use Dropbox: http://db.tt/KZB2c3f I love it.

  9. #9 DuWayne
    July 23, 2011

    I always back up Very Important Things on multiple drives – including one that I store offsite, on my webserver (where I have theoretically unlimited space and bandwidth – in practice there are very firm, but reasonable limits), on DVDs, on my MS “SkyDrive” and on the googleverse. On top of that, all of my Really, REALLY, Extremely, Very Important Documents are also backed up separately – living everywhere else, but also on a couple of home servers. The friend who keeps my stuff offsite (both on HDD and DVDs – documents in hard copy as well) stores them in his (essentially) disaster proof gun vault.

    I have lost too many very precious things that cannot be replaced, so I am very paranoid about ensuring that important shit – like pictures and home vids, are kept very safely. I am even more paranoid about the especially important documents, as they would be instrumental in protecting my family in case a particular something rather regrettable were to happen.

    That said, I was very loyal to google and blogger for ages, because during a period where documenting certain shit was extremely important, one of their tech guys helped me set the settings on a private blog for which they would track and save the data on. That way, if I ever needed to go to court, it wouldn’t be hard to date when I had written a given “post.” No guarantee that a court would have accepted it, but that certainly increased the likelihood.

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