google: i'll be your mirror 03.07.2006, 5:25 PM
posted by ben vershbow
From notes accidentally published on Google's website, leaked into the blogosphere (though here from the BBC): plans for the GDrive, a mirror of users' hard drives.
With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including e-mails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc; and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc).
I just got a shiver -- a keyhole glimpse of where this is headed. Google's stock made a shocking dip last week after its Chief Financial Officer warned investors that growth of its search and advertising business would eventually slow down. The sudden panicked thought: how will Google realize its manifest destiny? You know: "organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible (China notwithstanding) and useful"? How will it continue to feed itself?
Google, as it has already begun to do (Gmail, get off my back!), wants to organize our information and make it universally accessible and useful to us. No more worries about backing up data -- Google's got your back. No worries about saving correspondences -- Google's got those. They've got your shoebox of photographs, your file cabinet of old college papers, your bank records, your tax returns. All nicely organized and made incredibly useful.
But as we prepare for the upload of our lives, we might pause to ask: exactly how useful do we want to become?
Jesse Wilbur on March 7, 2006 5:55 PM:
I feel strongly that this period we're in, this transitional phase between physical and digital, is the most precarious one for our personal memories. Our collective memories are secured in other media, but your 'shoebox' of digital photos is currently in a fragile state - one that won't outlast your hard disk. Instead of shelling out $50 for backup software, letting Google do it for free is a better alternative for me, and one more likely to keep my data intact (rather than no backup option at all).
KF on March 7, 2006 6:07 PM:
Good grief, that gives me chills. I've told my students before about how much I hate grocery store frequent shopper cards, feeling certain that one day I'm bound to get a call from my health insurance provider (assuming such things continue to exist) saying, "Now, Ms. Fitzpatrick -- if you're going to persist in eating that Cheez Whiz, we'll be forced to deny you coverage for anything cardiovascular. And don't get us started about the beer..." My students think I'm paranoid, and maybe I am. But it seems to me that there has never been a case in which information has gotten similarly concentrated and cross-referenced without its uses drifting inexorably toward the nefarious...
K.G. Schneider on March 7, 2006 6:59 PM:
I'm most frightened by the ease with which people will trade privacy and personal ownership for what they believe is preservation. Too busy for a longer comment, but concur with the grocery-store card concerns. Awfully close to the scenario in Nicola Griffith's Slow River, to name just one of many dystopian scenarios.
Sally Northmore on March 8, 2006 5:11 PM:
Exactly how useful do we want to become? Eek! I don't want to, (at least for Google ends), but I don't know if I see this as indicative of moving towards technological dystopia. Already, on a daily basis, we offer so many bits of ourselves to the online nebula. Just as easy example, faceless email engines already contain lists of our most personal contacts, and have witnessed our personal correspondence--and we offer this up freely. Also, does .mac offer a similar program?
Also, Jesse said, Our collective memories are secured in other media, but your 'shoebox' of digital photos is currently in a fragile state - one that won't outlast your hard disk.
I misread this comment on first read and interpreted it figuratively. It was pretty awesome.