Last year I met a woman whose email server would reject any message any message originating from a gmail address. It isn’t a bug: she does not want any emails sent to her “read” by google and so. She has no control over where her emails end-up, but she can control who she accepts email from, and she wants nothing to do with Google.
Having been an early adopter of gmail – first as something to mess around with and, for the past five years as a way to rid myself of spam for free – I’m no stranger to google’s penchant for gathering information any way they can. I’m not crazy about their software mining my email for keywords in order to present certain ads to me, but I didn’t find it particularly invasive. Maybe the truth is that I wasn’t bothered enough by it.
Like email back in 2007, I got into Google Voice just to play around with it and, before realizing the far-reaching effects of that choice, my gvoice number was stamped on my business cards.
Since it has its fingers in so many web properties, google may very well have a much better idea of who I really am than my closest friends. I just can’t come to terms with this notion, let alone decide whether this is a bad thing or not, but it just rubs me the wrong way: google knows what I look for online (from weird fetishes to patio furniture), they know what videos I watch and, from how many times I’ve watched some of them, which ones I might like, they know who are the closest people to me, who I talk to and how often, and even more importantly, what I talk about (you really thought that their voice-mail transcription technology’s only used for voice-mail?).
Yesterday I took the first step towards distancing myself as much as poosible from google and started using https://startpage.com as my search engine. I haven’t found a good email alternative, but I will end-up using either mail.com or yahoo.com, and am still looking at phone service providers. I will post more about what I find during the next couple of weeks, as I continue cutting the umbilical cord it’s become.
Call me paranoid if you will, but sometimes, paranoid people do get killed.