Monday, July 02, 2007

Why Does Google Want Me To Fail? Or, Why The Dog Ate My Homework.

I suppose you could call me a Google fan. I’m currently blogging on blogger, I put my blog photos in Picasa, I have a gmail account, I use Google Earth to plan running courses around the city, I’ve played around with the online spreadsheet and document, and I’ve even occasionally clicked on one of the ubiquitous ads that pay for it all. The little company has come a long way from the nondescript search page that I heard about from my brother in the computer labs at U of Idaho in 1997.

Before Google we had search engines like Alta Vista, Lycos, and others that I’ve forgotten. Remember them? When you searched for anything with them they invariably brought you back porn. It didn’t matter what you were looking for, you could input “puppies” and they would fetch you German bestiality pics. Of course in the middle nineties the only thing on the internet was porn and a few research papers, but, nonetheless, it was pretty insufferable. Then Google came and actually brought you stuff that, although not what you were looking for, it at least had a puppy or two in it. Since then, Google has been churning out product after product to keep our minds and eyeballs hovering over their ad space. It’s been pretty effective.

Their latest product that I’ve fallen for is Google Reader (GR). This little gem is basically an RSS reader, but it so much more than that. Like other RSS readers, GR brings you back RSS feeds you have selected. GR also has prepackaged interest bundles that bring collections of sites, and if you choose to, stores them on your hard-drive so you can click through the internet even when you are not online. It also organizes the sites and puts them neatly into their respective categories, allows you to scroll quickly through the headers and pictures, and monitors which stories you actually click on to read or just pass by, all the while keeping stats on what you've read, what type of stuff you've read, how many time a day you read. Wow. And all of it worthless.

I love Google Reader and I find myself spending hours with it numbingly clicking through stories that interest me and even those that don’t. But, I actually read very few of them, I just scan the header and the intro paragraphs, look at the pictures, and then move on. I should click on the stories and read them, but I don’t, because I have hundred of these things waiting for me to peruse. If I actually read them I’d never get on with my day. Therefore, I don't think GR has resulted in a more "informed" me, it has just made me more aware of the fact that there is an awful lot of content on the web (and most of it is awful) and I need to quit my job and become a full time internet addict.

This is what technology seems to have brought us, thousands and thousand of tiny distractions. Instead of the promise of improve productivity so that we could work for a few hours a day and spend the rest of our hours enjoying life, I spend hours blogging or on tool like GR that I should have been using for work, spending time with my family, or studying. And I’m pretty sure that there are other our their like me who spend way to much time enjoying these productivity and internet “life aid” tools rather than actually working.

Oh well, time is up on this rant, I have to get off blogger and put some time over on Google Reader, or I could actually do some work …

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