We are the Google Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be Assimilated

I was spending some time the other day looking through some new websites when I came across a comparison of Google to the Borg, a fictional race of cyborgs in the Star Trek TV show characterized by relentless pursuit of targets for assimilation into their collective consciousness. “The Borg” have since become a powerful symbol in popular culture for any juggernaut against whom “resistance is futile”.

Stefan Tobaben:We are Google. Resistance is futile. You will be data mined. We will add your informational distinctiveness to our database. Your culture will adapt to be serviced by us.

Stefan’s comparison worries me because most things I do on the Internet are now completely transparent to a secretive company which doesn’t hide its goal of indexing all the information out there, especially concentrating on personal information.

To give you an idea how Google collects data about individuals, this is what they know about me:

  • Google Adsense is my biggest source of income by far and they also do my traffic monitoring via Google Analytics so they know how much I earn and all about who links to me
  • Google Australia is my main search engine and I can guarantee that they log all my searches and can cross-reference them to other activities
  • I use Gmail for some of my personal emails
  • Google Picasa stores my favourite photos
  • I recently started to use Google Docs and Spreadsheets for university team assignments
  • All my feeds are read via Google Reader
  • Since Google has just bought Feedburner, they now know all my RSS subscriber details

Google Master Plan Video

There is nothing more perilous at a border crossing than a Google-happy border guard. Over the past year, two Canadians reported they were denied entry into the U.S. after a border guard Googled their names and decided, based on the search results, that they were undesirables.

-excerpt from Montreal Mirror article Net danger >> Online searches are new, and problematic, tools for border guards

“Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him.” – Cardinal Richelieu
“We don’t know enough about you.” – Google CEO Eric Schmidt
Google controls your e-mail, your videos, your calendar, your searches… What if it controlled your life?

WHAT IF GOOGLE WERE EVIL? Cory Doctorow imagines the worst

– excerpt from Scroogled By Cory Doctorow

Do you agree with me or do you believe Google when they say their aim is to make money without doing evil?

40 thoughts on “We are the Google Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be Assimilated”

  1. Yikes! You have opened up my eyes to a whole new perspective.

    I work as a webmaster and most of the time, I use Google (and Google-owned) sites… Adsense, Picasa, Docs, Feedburner, YouTube. Now all my personal info are at their mercy. I would like to believe that they really adhere to their motto: Do no evil. But then again, even the best intentions can wind up in the trash if money takes precedence.

    For all our sakes, let’s hope that they are what they say they are. (crossing fingers)

  2. Google provide many of my web service as well, however, I do think their gain is great. By providing us free service & site advertising they eliminate their competitors one by one, and we know that the last thing we need is another Microsoft.

  3. It is interesting that you just bring this up as I recently stepped back and realized just how much Google has taken hold of services I used to have spread out among third-party stand alone apps. At first it was just Gmail and Reader, but now I am using Notebook more and starting to build an iGoogle page. I love my Palm PDA, but it just can’t compete with the suite that Google is offering.

  4. Didn’t Google China censor specific words banned by the government of the People’s Repulic of China… Didn’t Google co-operate just so they could get an “in” to the Chinese market?

    It’s always about profit with the big wigs, sooner or later. Yikes, that’s kinda cynical.

  5. Yea, you are right… Google is quickly taking over. I’m sure they are no where near finished too. With the never ending battle between Yahoo, MSN and Google, we are still in the early stages. Who will who buy next?

  6. Good article, Google without doubt know a whole lot more than they let on.

    They are in a massive position of strength and can easily use data to control things.

    They can be the difference between the success or failure of a business just by the position in the SERPs they put it at.

    I don’t think you are far of the mark to be honest.

  7. That is pretty scary when you think about it. Have you seen the “Google’s Master Plan” video? It talks about the same stuff but it’s even more scarier. The narrator is Aussie too!

    EDITOR: thanks I’ve embedded a Youtube copy of the movie in the article. For more details visit http://www.masterplanthemovie.com/

  8. For some reason, I believe Google and their pure intentions. I don’t think there will be any stop to their data collection and mining in the near future. Probably not until they start collecting more private or serious data.

  9. Yes i totally agree with you. They collect lot of personal information of most of the internet users. I think we don’t have any other option but to trust them that they don’t do evil.

  10. I just found out about the Feedburner thing, and I have to admit that one of my first thoughts was exactly what you are saying abou them knowing everything i do on my site. But i guess resistance is futile…we can just hope that they are telling the truth…

  11. These are some great tips. I agree with your thoughts. I don’t know if I like Google analytics because of some of the stuff you brought up. I feel like Google is big brother. I really hope that other search engines are able to build up so that way they don’t monopolize all of the search traffic.

  12. My personal opinion on Google is that they use all the data they collect to create a better user experience. With out the data they would lack in that area. They definatley could do a lot of bad things if they wanted to or if the information got into the wrong hands. Interesting subject.

  13. Resistance may be futile, but this is the exact reason I use Stat Counter instead of analytics! I’m trying to keep at least one portion of my site private from big brother. We are all way too dependent.

  14. Google definately have alot of information on alot of people’s internet habbits. Just think of the public outcry is they got caught doing anything unethical with that information…

  15. Lol so so true. I’m not using Google Analytics anymore because I really don’t want them to know how much traffic I’m getting. I think everyone has to limit the amount of information they give to Google.

  16. I like Google and I think they are doing the internet a good thing by modifying their search rules to downplay the effect of Jon Chow like linking schemes. Anyway, I just starting blogging. Any advice?

  17. I wouldn’t be surprised if they buy Wal-Mart next! They are taking over. What I would give to have bought stock when they first started.

    EDITOR: Yeah, I wish i’d bought Google stock as well.

  18. Don’t blame google for what they did. For me, I still use yahoo for email, photo sharing and so on.
    Don’t tell me you also use orkut for your social networking? if so then google will know who your friend as well…lol

    EDITOR: nah I don’t use Orkut, I don’t think many in people in Australia use it.

  19. Yes, I agree, one of these days Google is going to take over. They are already pretty much a monopoly with everything they have bought up and acquired. As webmasters, we have no choice but to use Google and Google-owned companies/products.

    In short…we’re screwed!

  20. Looking forward to their next PR update though.

    EDITOR: Are you serious? PR updates are too stressful, I’ve found they can have huge effects up/down on site traffic

  21. If the majority of Google users was made of IT specialists maybe we’d have a chance in imposing certain restrictions as to the amount of personal information gathered. However since we’re a society thriving on speed and profit it’s highly unlikely this data mining trend will change. Besides, rather than pay for some of the services Google offers i prefer having them for free especially since some are really quality and innovative ones.

  22. I am the same with everything, except I do not use google picasa. (And I use google.com, not .au lol).

    Google is taking over the web, one site acquirement at a time.

  23. It’s a bit like Star Wars Episode 2.

    Yoda and Master Windoo help get the Empire up and running and you see this “Holy shit what have we done?” looks on their faces at the end.

    Google isn’t much different. Sooner or later they will switch to the dark side. Now that they are a public company, the engineers aren’t in charge anymore and they have a responsibility to the shareholders. “Do no evil’s” days are numbered.

  24. You know, it’s fascinating that this has been coming up so often lately. I think people who use Google regularly (um… the whole world?), like me, don’t really spend much time thinking about how much of information they actually have on us, and how your entire search history is available to them… it’s vaguely creepy, but as others said, we benefit from it too.

  25. Google is the Internet’s giant, and for now at least, there’s no way anyone can change that. As for the “assimilation” part – come on, that’s only natural in any type of business. If you were CEO at Google, wouldn’t you buy all the promising web businesses and make them your own?

    Mike

  26. Google rules. I can say that they own the net, and not only the net. They have all the needed information about just everything. They can make more money without doing evil so I still believe they are on the good side. If they make money we make money also. It’s so simple.

  27. Google is very good,but I see more spam here than in Yahoo. On the other hand, yahoo’s results are much limited. They filter to the point where they don’t include relevant results at all

  28. At first it was just Gmail and Reader, but now I am using Notebook more and starting to build an iGoogle page. I love my Palm PDA, but it just can’t compete with the suite that Google is offering.

  29. It’s true what you say. But look at Microfost, they were like it is Google now, but they were. In time the things will change, I hope.

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