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Treff LaPlante

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Google Is Becoming Big Brother

The giant Google has great administrators and programmers; something is definitely not right about it, though

My company recently started using Google's enterprise mail service. We did this as part of an effort to be more efficient and more competitive.

Google has great administrators and programmers who manage the service, as well as spam-detection and firewall features. And the price is terrific. It is clearly a superior choice versus managing our own mail server the way we've done it for the past seven years.

Something is definitely not right about it, though.

I am using the Google mail client even as I write this blog, which I'll e-mail to someone who will review and publish it. In the upper right corner of the screen, I see these links:

  • Blogging tools.
  • Blogging 101.
  • Business blogging.
  • Online blogging.

Aw, that's nice, Google's helping me.

Or is it?

Earlier, I was reviewing an e-mail from a strategic partner who does search engine marketing. In that same upper corner I noticed a bunch of links to his competitors - companies to which I wouldn't otherwise have given much thought. Does my partner want his e-mails to me to be the trigger by which I learn about his competitors?

Even worse, every time I send an e-mail to a client, am I introducing them to my competitors in cloud computing?

Maybe I should go back to using the telephone.

Something isn't right about that either. Google's telephone service - Google Voice - is getting a lot of attention. I've had two people suggest I look at it in the last two weeks. Google basically provides a full-service phone system, including automatically converting all of the speech to text.

Once a conversation is converted to text, doesn't it become just like an e-mail?

Trust me when I tell you that if you seriously use Google's mail service nonstop for more than a week, you will become amazed by the precision with which it can deliver advertisements to you. It isn't random luck that causes these very precise messages to magically appear in front of your eyeballs.

When we made the decision to convert to Google mail, I thought its competitive pricing and services were a boon to my 5GL programmingbusiness. But now, since I've gotten a glimpse into what it's doing with my life's information, I realize I sold Google the keys to the kingdom for a pittance. I made a fool's bargain.

You probably think I'm overreacting, and that targeted advertising is relatively benign. I felt that way two weeks ago.

Assuming Google hires scientists, statisticians and behavioral psychologists (hard to imagine, huh?), isn't it just a matter of time until it learns to use my life's history to nudge my very thoughts and actions?

Don't take my word for any of this. Here's Google CEO and board Chairman Eric Schmidt:

On Google's control over your behavior: "I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next."

On not respecting your privacy: "I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

On why you should only listen to Google: The Internet is quickly becoming a "cesspool" where false information thrives. "Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool."

On why Google should be allowed to store all this data about you: "Would you prefer someone else? Is there a government that you would prefer to be in charge of this?"

Originally posted on the Central Penn Business Journal Gadget Cube.

More Stories By Treff LaPlante

Treff LaPlante has been involved with technology for nearly 20 years. At WorkXpress, he passionately drives the vision of making customized enterprise software easy, fast, and affordable.

Prior to joining WorkXpress, Treff was director of operations for eBay's HomesDirect. While there, he created strategic relationships with Fortune 500 companies and national broker networks and began his foray into the development of flexible workflow software technologies. He served on the management team that sold HomesDirect to eBay.

During his time at Vivendi-Universal Interactive, Treff was director of strategy. In addition to M&A activities, Treff broadly applied quantitative management principles to sales, marketing, and product line functions. Treff served as the point person for the management team that sold Cendant Software to Vivendi-Universal. Earlier positions included product management and national sales trainer for Energy Design Systems, an engineering software company. Treff began his professional career as a metals trader for Randall Trading Corp, a commodities firm that specialized in bartering and transporting various metals and coal from the then-dissolving Soviet Union.

Treff received his MBA from Pepperdine University and a BS in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. http://www.workxpress.com

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