Decline and Exit
I keep hearing anti-Google sentiment: they are gaining too much market share, they seem to be likely to run into copyright trouble with the book-scanning project, their secretive server farms use exorbitant amounts of energy, they are too opaque about what they do with their collection of personal information, they have given in to state censorship, and so on.
When one considers all of these various anti-Google sentiments together, one might say Google is in a state of decline.
In 1970 the economist Albert Hirschmann published a book titled Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States. In the book, Hirschmann explored the three (rather intuitive) options—exit, voice, and loyalty—that members of any human grouping can exercise. Most people, myself included, have responded to Google’s decline with loyalty. Some have felt the need to voice complaints. Very few, as far as I can tell, have decided to exit.
Well, I’ve changed my mind. I have decided to try to exit.
I am going to spend March Away From Google.
Between now and the end of February I will outline how I use Google on a regular basis, what I plan to do in order to March Away, and what I think I might learn. I haven’t the least desire to take part in flame wars about whether or not Google is turning evil or not. I actually don’t really have a strong opinion on the matter–although this experiment has been inspired in part by a conversation with Siva Vaidhyanathan, who has some very strong opinions. As far as I know, I don’t know anybody who works for (or even used to work for) Google, so I don’t have any sort of personal agenda or disclaimer at all. I am just curious to see what happens when one tries to exit Google.
If you want to join me–if you also want a March Away From Google–let me know and we can trade notes.