OUseful.Info, the blog…

Trying to find useful things to do with emerging technologies in open education

Google Lock-In Lock-Out

As John Naughton feels obliged to remind folk every now and again, the web is not the internet. Because we all know that for many people, Facebook apparently is. Or Google is.

And as anyone following my tweets over the last year or two will know, I’ve started finding Google more and more irksome.

It’s not just that the one or two people I know who use Google Plus (Google+?) are now all but lost to me as sources of neat ideas because I don’t do Gooplus and it doesn’t do RSS…

It’s not just because Google is shutting down the Google Reader backbone that powers a lot of RSS and Atom syndication feed services (and leaves me wondering: how long is Feedburner for this world? Maybe it’s time to start moving your feeds and trying to get folk off that piece of infrastructure…)…

It’s not just that geocoding done within Fusion Tables is not exported – if you look at a KML feed from Google Fusion Tables, you’ll find there’s no lat-long data there. To get a geo-view, you need to stick in Google Fusion Tables or wire the feed into Google Earth, which will then “initiate geocoding of location descriptions while viewing [the] KML file”…

It’s not just that Google is deprecating gadgets from spreadsheets, which as Martin points out means that if I want to visualise data in a spreadsheet all I’m going to be left with is Google’s crappy charts

It’s not just that Google moved away from using CalDav to support calendar interoperability… (announcement: “CalDAV API will become available for whitelisted developers, and will be shut down for other developers on September 16, 2013. Most developers’ use cases are handled well by Google Calendar API, which we recommend using instead.”) [UPDATE: seems Google may have had a rethink, thought I’m thinking not not really for the reason given…Making Google’s CalDAV and CardDAV APIs available for everyone]

It’s not just that Google is moving away from using the XMPP instant messaging protocol (and nor, I think, making a move towards using MQTT?)…

It’s not just that Google will be using your photos to create photos you never took and presumably offer them up via your image gallery in favour of photos it thinks aren’t up to scratch…

Though I’m sure that Google wouldn’t start pushing images in just the WebP image format so that you’d feel obliged to use Chrome…

And also in the browser, I’m sure Google wouldn’t start using Google Public DNS as a Chrome default setting. (Is the same true of Chromebook? Presumably folk connected to Google Fiber use Google Public DNS?) But does it use SPDY as a default? How about on Android?

It’s not just that Google will tag your social media posts using tags you might never use yourself, and as it does so altering the externalised memory embodied by that post…

It’s not just that as web search gets increasingly personalised and localised, we lose any sense of Google ground truth; I’m not quite sure how the info-skills trainers are going to address this when training a motley crew of different learners to discover a particular resource other than by using known-item search strategies (which sort of misses the point). Or maybe it’s right that a cohort of students should all get different results when they run ostensibly the same search?

Hmmm.. thinks: if personalised/localised search could be reduced to raw search phrase (whatever I put in the search box) plus a set of invisible search limits that reflect the personalisation/localisation tweaks applied to my search, how might my hidden/invisible search limits compare with yours?

It’s not just that Google uses tax efficient corporate structures to minimise its tax bill, because lots of companies do that…

It’s not just any one of these things, taken on its own merits… it’s all of them taken together…

“Embrace, extend, extinguish”… where have we heard that before?

Drip; drip; drip…

PS see also M. Wunsch on The Great Google Goat Rodeo

PPS Although not an open standard, I forgot this one – Google dropped support for the closed Microsoft ActiveSync protocol (see also Google Sync End of Life)

Written by Tony Hirst

May 16, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Anything you want

13 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. what personal information about me might be leaked by the differences between your personalised results and mine? the filter bubble has a bunch of issues beyond even confirmation bias

    • @Mary I suspect that the Goog doesn’t work quite like: /search phrase/ + /hidden search limits/ = personalised search query, but that formulation does help get across something of the idea that the the way the different results you and I get from the same search might equally be generated by customised searches that are not subject to personalisation/localisation?

      Tony Hirst

      May 16, 2013 at 9:28 pm

  2. […] Google Lock-In Lock-Out […]

  3. […] lots more examples to add to that list — Fusion tables, gadgets, image files — “Google Lock-In Lock-Out,” as he calls […]

  4. Every issue on your list also bothers me (esp. Reader), but the advent of personalised search has much deeper consequences than any of them in my opinion.

    Some form of net neutrality is being destroyed here. Youtube ‘related’ videos shows what this is leading to: redundancy and homogeneity. I switched to DuckDuckGo a few months ago because of that.

    I have not seen any improvement to either Google Mail or Google Calendar in a long time, but I now find myself fearing (instead of impatiently waiting for) the next updates.


    May 18, 2013 at 11:27 am

  5. […] are some interesting comments relating to my previous post on Google Lock-In Lock-Out in a comment thread on . Here are some of my own lazy Sunday morning notes/thoughts relating to […]

  6. […] Google Lock-In Lock-Out >> OUseful.Info […]

  7. […] Google Lock-In Lock-Out >> OUseful.Info […]

  8. What does the reader expect? these services are free to use, (albeit with adverts but they can be ignored)
    if you want data in a certain format, you will have to buy it! (But that seems to be anathema to those guys who think Google is a public service… it isnt!)
    (No I dont work for Google, or anybody else actually, but I believe in free enterprise!)


    May 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm

  9. […] artículo, firmado por Tony Hirst (@psychemedia) y titulado Google Lock-In Lock-Out, muestra las reservas de este experto en nuevas tecnologías con el cariz que está tomando la […]

  10. […] admit that a nagging concern over becoming reliant on Google products also influenced my decision (Tony Hirst has written with great clarity on the dangers of lock-in with Google products). I was introduced to Github Gist at the recent Oxford Digital Humanities Summer School when our […]

  11. […] PS see also Google Lock-In Lock-Out […]

Comments are closed.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,338 other followers

%d bloggers like this: