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Take One App, Call Me in the Morning

March 12, 2010

For those of you who want the Google Reader experience without the onerous feeling of having to collect worthwhile feeds and pore through hundreds and thousands of posts every day or two, Google Play is totally up your alley.  It’ll also be a perfect casual read when the iPad comes out.  I’m not sure why Google is trying to kill the newspapers, but it seems to be succeeding.

As mobile applications have become more and more mainstream and achieved broad acceptance and understanding, the Expert Community has finally jumped on the social media and mobile app bandwagon, concluding that such apps can help foster more meaningful, interpersonal, offline relationships.  While this would be patently obvious to anyone who actually used such an application, sometimes the view gets hazy from the ivory tower where so much abstraction about “what life must be like down there” is necessary to come to any conclusions.

Where these Experts seem to vary the most is whether or not they are at all concerned by the fact that anyone halfway across the world can tell exactly what you’re doing at any given moment.  Some, like Evgeny Morozov, rightly point out that the problem is when we use intermediaries that tend to create trust issues.  In the Internet age, the capability of near-instantaneous communication with anyone does not rely on anyone with a technical monopoly on such a function; anyone can use either technologies promoting freedom or the ones that will wring every last cent of value out of your privacy.  The Googles and Facebooks of the world compete by pushing these digital narcotics (such as the one linked above) at us in order to keep us hooked, even though they amount to little more than fun features and slick interfaces.

Of course, even though providers like Google may be drug-like in their combination of addictiveness and utility, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to quit or even that we should.  They just require some savvy medical advice–and maybe some consumer protection regulation(?).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Adam permalink
    March 12, 2010 10:50 am

    Since we discussed this a few weeks back ive begun talking to others about this invasion of privacy. Its shocking how few people actually care about this and future implications. I guess we really have been drugged as you say. But the question is, if legislation is created to protect our privacy, will google still have any incentive to create these products?

    • slickricks permalink*
      March 12, 2010 11:54 pm

      Perhaps what we should really be asking is whether or not we need a Google to be making those apps? Sure, they’re slick and visually appealing, and therefore worth some amount of monetary value to us, but we can’t very accurately tell how much we’re paying when a single entity is a clearinghouse of our entire identities, able to sell or give away your entire life at whim. Think about it this way: Google is willing to give you all this great stuff for free (as in the monetary cost to you, the consumer, is zero dollars), but it’s an insanely valuable company. The reason: because it turns around and sells you. Wouldn’t you like to know what that exchange rate looked like? Wouldn’t you like some competition in that market? Wouldn’t you like it to even be consulted?

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