I know, that in the past, I have praised Google. Repeatedly, held them up to some sort of crazy standard of perfection. Somewhere, they seem to have lost their way, and along that way, they lost me.
I can’t really say it was a single factor or the turn occurred at a single moment, it just sort of… happened…
I can’t even say it was Google+, as much as I dislike Google+, though the focus on Google+ didn’t help. It certainly started around the time Google+ became a thing, though there was a bit of a build up before that. I think maybe the initial start of the decline involved Search.
Google is supposedly the "King of Search". I’ve felt that the results have been declining more and more over the years. So many people are gaming the system with perfect SEO blah blah blah bull shit. Maybe it’s just that the type of results I want never show up. I now how to use modifiers in searches to streamline things too, is it’s not like I’m making crappy searches. My biggest pet peeve is that searching for reviews of products always returns shopping sites with reviews on product pages. I don’t want some nobody slob’s review that they were prompted to give by some email a day after they received an item, I want a thorough thought out review from someone who does reviews. I used to be able to get this sort of thing using a Blog Search but Google took that away. Even the Blog search started getting iffy because news sites that use a blog style format started SEOing the crap out of it and pushing to the top.
If I want to shop, I’ll use Google Shipping. A generic shop related search page that would just show me the lowest prices in order, so I know where to get the best deal. Google took that away. Google shopping is now all paid placement. It’s useless now by default since the site with the most money to burn will just be on top.
There are also an excess of returned results from sites like wikihow.com and answers.com and the worst offender, about.com. Google used to have a feature that you could tell it, "Don’t ever show me results from this domain". Google took that away. The result was the return of the crappy searches.
Everything, supposedly is at the mercy of Google’s almighty mysterious algorithm. Which brings up another annoyance I have with Google over all. They are increasingly pushing the idea of "Give us more information for better tailored results". Except I don’t want tailored results. I want raw results. I want serendipity. I want the site I have never been to to show up, not results mostly from my "top 5 sites for my demographic of similar aged people with similar interests". I don’t WANT a filter bubble of information that some algorithm thinks I want to see.
Which is where Google plus starts coming in. Google Plus is way more than some shitty Facebook knockoff. It’s also about more than adding a name to your "secret profile of data". Google doesn’t give a crap about your name, you name is meaningless for marketing data. You get a number, which is plenty. It’s about seeing your connections. Sure, some of that can be drawn from your email contacts but the data that can be pulled from who is in a circle called "Friends" vs a circle called "coworkers" is pretty vast. Not to mention the cross marketing potential of pushing the same product to you and your friends or you and your colleagues at the same time.
Google data mines that you go out every Friday based on your location history, it data mines that you always go out with your buddy Jim based on Jim’s location data. Now it starts advertising Restaurant X to both of you. Suddenly you both want to go. Sure, this is how Marketing works, I guess, but it feels skeevy and deceitful.
So ignore Google+. Don’t let it have your connections, don’t let it have your data. These things are all on varying levels of accomplishability. Not using G+ is great, except Google is really pushing it to the point of (maybe at this point) forcing your to sign up even if you never use it. Even if not, there is the constant push on Youtube to "Link your profiles and use your real name".
The question of course is, why does Google care if you use your real name if they don’t need your name to market to you. "While Male, 30-35, watches lots of music videos" is marketable data that’s useful. "Your name is Dave" is not useful. Daves can like sports, Daves can like video games, Daves can be 5 years old, Daves can be 80 years old.
You can’t makert to a Dave.
The point is, why does Google care if someone calls themselves Dave or if they call themselves KookyBearsFan84.
My belief is that part of the desire for real names is to help make people more "discoverable". This helps others find each other and creates more connections. connections are marketable. Dave’s friends may not know he posts semi anonymously as KookyBearsFan84 but they all know him as Dave Davidson. So when they search Google+ for their friends and see Dave, they circle him. Now Google can market with that data. Maybe all of Dave’s friends are known to drink Pepsi, so Dave can be shown ads for Pepsi.
So why not just use Google+, everyone already uses Facebook right? Except a lot of Google+ is modeled after Facebook and a lot of people really don’t like Facebook. Google had a chance to make G+ something better, but instead it’s just another marketing engine, just another Facebook. I don’t need another feed my friends content (friends who are not even on G+ in the first place). I have Facebook for that. I also don’t need or care about "what’s hot". If I wanted feeds from Bullshit News Blog I’d subscribe to their page. I don’t care if everyone else on G+ liked their post, I’m not interested. I just want a feed of everything my friends post.
Which I had, with Google Reader.
The closing of Google Reader is the closest thing to a turning point in my love for Google as you can get. I never used Buzz, I vaguely used Wave, there were some other Google projects that got closed that I didn’t care about, but Google Reader really hurt. Sure, there are other RSS clients, but Google reader was the best and it had put a lot of the others out of business. My RSS feeds and reader are the closest thing I can get to a raw unfiltered feed of what I care about. If I want to read a headline, fine, i will, if not, I can skip it.
But I made that choice.
Not some bull shit algorithm based on my history and friend’s interests. It’s likely Google Reader was the largest product that Google shut down, it certainly generated a lot more buzz than Wave or… Buzz.
I think ultimately, I am tired of Google pushing itself more and more into my life in an attempt to tell me what I want to hear and show me what I want to see. It’s just getting progressively worse. Cell phones that gather your location. Mics on devices listening constantly for "keywords" and whatever else they might find useful. sniffing your wifi for your smart TV so it can see what you are watching on TV. Pushing all your friends’ data and your data together to make a big ball of what ifs to push more ads.
I think ultimately I am just tired of constantly being sold to. And tired of constantly being the product. What the hell happened to being able to pay for a service and just use it. "Free" is great, except it’s not free, it’s "Free". Google has one business in the end, it’s not mail, or social networking, or making self driving electric cars, it’s advertising.
Yeah, the story about "What if Google knows you need jeans and you drive by a store and there is a sale and your self driving car takes you there automatically and then your phone detects your mood when you try on pants and automatically orders the best jeans," sounds great… Until you realize it likely won’t be the best jeans, it’ll just be the jeans from the store that paid Google to advertise it’s sale.
And even if they are the best, what happened to choice? People are not robots, and sometimes it’s ok to screw up and make mistakes. People don’t need some almighty algorithm telling them what they need or want. People can already do that on their own. Sometimes they may be wrong, but that’s ok…