I’m stumped on this one. A friend recently invited me into gmail (we’re – what is it – 18 months into the beta version now?) and late one night having mysteriously failed to configure my existing BTYahoo account for use with Thunderbird I turned to gmail, which was very easy indeed. So I impulsively told all my friends that it would be gmail from now on.
Google’s advert generation on the back of all this email scanning is also a bother (though not a particular distraction – I have enough trouble noticing what’s in the centre of my monitor, let alone anything that discreet). But it’s not spyware, and if it’s as ephemeral as they say I don’t really have a problem with my free services being funded by advertising.
The censorship on google.cn. Maybe I’m naive, but isn’t ‘breaking into China’ that the kind of thing that all PLCs dream of? And wouldn’t missing the opportunity of China be a mortal wound? Alright, self-censorship is an enormous compromise, and if I were Google I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole, but then again I wouldn’t have floated and I’d be a not-for-profit collective. Google’s regular search engine is still available in China, providing a useful comparison the transparently self-censored Google with the rubbish, slowed-down Government-censored one. And Google self-censors in several countries that make a crime out of Holocaust denial – and god knows what else.
Of course I care about privacy and freedom of speech – if I find anything better than Google, I’ll use it. Or if I find a proper reason – specific to Google over and above all the other providers out there – why I really shouldn’t use it, I’ll stop.