Bits and thoughts

#!/bin/bash is not rude

Why lower Google dependency

Written by ⓘⓓⓔⓝⓣⓛⓤⓓ - -

Google is indeed a huge "service" provider. Through all it's "services" it is able to host a good part of your digital life. I would say that the amount of digital data it can detain for you is 100% for any common needed usage. Let's make a short list of these services. I'll connect to and go through the menu bar.

Google "Services"

  • +You : Google social network   
  • Search : Obviously their search engine is de-fact the entry point of internet
  • Images : Dedicated search engine for pictures  
  • Gmail : That's for your emails and managing your contacts   
  • Maps : Localization related tasks (directions, places)   
  • Drive : THE archetype of cloud container. That's the place where you can place any files
  • Calendar : organize your activities
  • Translate : Translation services
  • Mobile : I sincerely don't know because I have just clicked it to writ this blog entry ...
  • Books : Looks like a book search engine
  • Offers : Some kind of auto-spam service. To me it looks like a place where you point yourself to what type of spam you WANT to receive. It sounds utterly crazy.
  • Wallet : I have never once clicked on this neither. It looks like the list of all the payments you made through the different Google service. I can find there the Android apps I bought.
  • Shopping : I guess that I'm not a big shopper for, once again I had absolutely never used this service. Once again it's some buying-compulsion related site. The name of the service included a clue , didn't it?
  • Blogger : Blogging hosting services
  • Reader : Looks like a news aggregator
  • Finance : A service for wanna-be traders and people who consider that finance and speculation are part of the real life ... As for  some of these Google services I had never before clicked on this one.
  • Photos : Places to share images galleries with your friends
  • Videos : A videos specialized search engine.

Categories of "Services"

From my point of  view there are two main categories of services provided by Google if we consider them from the perspective of your data :
  • The services for which Google holds your data
  • The services for which Google uses your data
Oh and of course, and that's just a wild guess, if Google holds your data then it can also use it.Let's try to categorize the previously identified "services" :
  • +You : holds
  • Search : uses
  • Images : uses
  • Gmail : holds
  • Maps : holds
  • Drive : holds
  • Calendar : holds
  • Translate : uses
  • Mobile : ???
  • Books : uses
  • Offers : uses
  • Wallet : holds
  • Shopping : uses
  • Blogger : holds
  • Reader : uses
  • Finance : uses
  • Photos : holds
  • Videos : uses

Autonomy and Privacy concerns

You had guessed that outsourcing your data to a third party provider may be a problem about your autonomy and your privacy.If somebody holds your data what happens if this data is lost ? it's outsourced to a further level ? you are denied access to this data ?If somebody uses your data would that be a problem if any data mining would categorize you in a vaguely-defined slice of the population that don't think you are related to ? or would that be a problem if the slicing of the data would put you in the category of population that a fascist government has decided to get rid off ?

What are the solutions ?

If you feel that its a concern enough to trust a third party to hold your data then the answer is :  host them yourself.This is THE solution but it has some tradeoffs :
  • You need to be tech savy enough to implement a self hosted solution
  • It costs a bit more than simply using a "free" service such as Google
I can't deny that implementing on your own each and every Google services is quite tedious. I find some of the skills are difficult to acquire. I myself haven't yet found the courage to host my own email server.As for the cost of it the equation is simple to me ; on one hand the cost is to give away some of my privacy and risk some of my autonomy, and on the other hand the cost is paying each year a small fee to a server  provider (And in itself is not real autonomy but in France my upload bandwidth is not large enough to host a server at home ... notwithstanding that hosting a server in my little Parisian flat would be energy consuming and prone to create to much noise).I chose a mid-term between relying on Google and self-hosting everything...Here is service by service what I did to alleviate my dependency to a third party provider (I'll keep in the list what is at stake on the possible usage of my data) . The colours indicate how much I am satisfied with my current solution , very well , fine or no use, bad
  • +You : holds : I don't use much social network and i'm on the way to create my own federated instance (I use right now). I have never been a fan of 'friend circles' and the like ...
  • Search : use : I have switched my searches to
  • Images : uses : I use ghostery web extension in Firefox. It guaranties that at least no cookies are used to track my search habits on Google Images (on you can look up images by typing "!gi" with the reference you are looking for but it brings you to the Google Image result page)
  • Gmail :holds : Unfortunately this is the hardest service for me to get rid off has hosting a mail server seems to be a little to much for me.
  • Maps : holds : I generally use it on my Android phone and I don't have much replacement found right now. I have considered using but it lacks a good support on Android
  • Drive : holds : I've used it in the past to share documents with some friends. This is not something that I do much but if I had to share some new documents and have a collaborative workflow I’d still use it I guess ...
  • Calendar : holds : This is the same as for Drive I don't use it much so that's no big deal for me.
  • Translate : uses : I don't use it
  • Mobile : ??? : I don't use it
  • Books : uses: I don't use it
  • Offers : uses: I don't use it
  • Wallet : holds : I don't use it
  • Shopping : uses : I don't use it
  • Blogger : holds : I don't use it and I host my own Pluxml instance
  • Reader : uses : I don't use it
  • Finance : uses: I don't use it
  • Photos : holds: This is the same as for Drive  and Calendar I don't use it much so that's no big deal for me.
  • Videos : uses : I don't use it

Last tip

One last thing that I did to lower my google dependency is to enable the double authentication mechanism. This obliges you to type a randomly generated one-time-password to use authenticated Google services. It's such a pain that I minimize my usage of Google and it makes me think to alternative before going to Google ...

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