De-Googling

It started with the Land of the Giants podcast season 3 on Google, which I finished on the drive home today.

That’s not true. It started long ago. I am a self-described “indieweb advocate”. I’ve written about how publishing on one’s own website is an act of rebellion (or even earlier than that about how the internet was ruined1).

I have on several occasions tried to loosen the bonds of the Google/Apple polycephalic monster. But I’ve always succumbed to the ease of giving up.

But that Land of the Giants podcast has swayed me to give it yet another try. This time, I’ve decided to be more tactical and address the following areas in order of difficulty:

  1. Search. I’ve switched my default search engine in my browsers and on my phone to DuckDuckGo. Easy.
  2. Browser. I have every browser on my computer. It goes with the professional territory. So switching back to Firefox as my default was relatively easy. On my phone, I installed DuckDuckGo’s browser (and signed onto the waiting list for their Mac browser) and made it my default.
  3. Email. This one is tricky. I do already have non-google emails with my web host. I could look into using one of them or even making a new one. I signed up for a free ProtonMail account. I eyeballed Hey email again. A hard requirement for me is the ability to use any email client I want, which immediately eliminates Hey as an option. ProtonMail supports email clients only on their paid plan, and it requires some additional application be run on the computer. Regardless, a transition will be gradual and annoying and likely not free. I’ve been a Gmail user since its launch. And calendaring…?
  4. Phone. I have an Android phone. (If an iPhone ever comes out with a USB-C port, I’ll probably switch back.) This is problematic but the options are terrible. My phone is even a Google phone. I may take this opportunity to try to clean off my phone as much as possible.
  5. Other services. I’m a big YouTube consumer. When it comes to video content, I probably consume 98% of it via YouTube, only resorting to scrolling endlessly through Netflix when YouTube has run out of stuff for me and the algorithm gets desperate. I’m also a big Google Docs user, and Google Drive is my cloud backup solution.

  1. I do miss writing stuff like this: This has all come at the cost of those qualities that vetted the original makers of the web. What I refer to as TechCrunch culture. Everyone’s an expert. “10 Ways to Drive More Hopeless Lackeys Into the Gaping Jowls of your Website.” Even the most cynical of web entrepreneurs these days are reading 5 paragraph summaries of ebooks that are simplified re-tellings of research that matured years ago and building entire businesses or products around these collections of aphorisms…That’s not all. All this data they’re collecting about you is driving product design decisions, and why shouldn’t it? It is your behavior they want to influence. Why is there an annoying popup asking you to sign up for an email list on nearly every site you visit? It’s because those work, and spam works. It’s your fault. Congratulations, we’ve democratized web design and development to the point where we are getting what our depraved attentions deserve. The distance between a fart-noise soundboard app and Forbes has compressed almost to the point of indecipherability. 


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