What with the recent uproar about Google’s take on net neutrality (it’s alright for some, but we’ll just make our own Internet over there), it’s fair to question if our behaviour will change any. Ryan posed this question yesterday:
So, here’s a question: Will you stop using Google’s services? *Can* you stop using Google’s services? Has the benefactor become the beast…
Despite having written about it a few days ago, I suspect the whole thing is a lot of stress about nothing. Nothing has happened other than Google and Verizon saying, “Hey, let’s do this thing.” Sure, they have the 700mhz spectrum and Google has… well, everything. But that doesn’t mean they’ll wield their power for evil.
We may be headed towards an apocalyptic break down in our rights and privacy, but for now I’m not going to unplug. I recently switched my email to Google, and they’re still doing pretty well by me. I worry about the destruction of the Internet as we know it, but I remain confident in two things. The first is basic capitalism, and the second is the plight of the lazy idealist.
In regards to capitalism, Google and Verizon are going to do the thing that makes money. They can only go so far by pissing people off, so they can’t do anything overtly terrible or their customers will leave. I think they’ll keep this in mind, and I don’t think we’ll see the destruction of the Internet or anything so grandiose as that. Their parallel Internet may not even materialize, but if it does I suspect it will be a good thing.
Which brings me to the lazy idealist, which is an apt term for myself. I like open source software, Linux, and all the philosophy that goes with it, but what computer do I use most? My MacBook, arguably the most closed source system I could get. The reason I like it is because it works so well, and I suspect the same would be true of whatever Google and Verizon cook up. Maybe they will make something unholy and terrible, but if they do it’ll probably also be delicious and filled with magic. As long as the company takes care of its customers positively, I can’t complain too terribly much. Sure, I like freedom, and Apple gives less than Linux, but I also like things that are pretty and work well and are compatible with the work I have to do.
In the end, there’s no point speculating. We’ll see what comes of this and decide when the deciding time comes. Until then, I’ll keep using the best tools that are available to me, and for search and email that remains Google. Could I leave if I needed to? Absolutely–without a hitch or a problem. But I doubt it will come to that.