Migrating Away From Google Services
Nothing specifically happened to make me want to migrate away from Google services. It's not like there was a last straw-type of situation, I just decided it was time. Google's business does not align with my personal preferences any longer and I would prefer to pick services that do.
Don't Be Evil
Google famously had this internal mantra of "Don't Be Evil" that I used to think was so cool. Imagine a tech company that was self-aware enough to know that it could be evil but wasn't because it reminded itself not to do that. That's cool!
But I don't think that's the reality of today. Google might not be evil in the way a demon might be evil but they sure like to do things that I dislike!
I Am Not a Product
The thing that makes me the most interested in migrating away from Google services is that I consider myself a user not a product. Many have said that if you don't pay for something, then you are the product and Google search is a pretty good example of this.
When I search for something on Google I don't pay for that search. Instead Google subsidizes that search by allowing advertisers to pay for placement on the results page. This is how Google makes the vast majority of their money. In this situation I am the product - my attention and clicks on ads are what fuel the search engine.
And I was fine with this arrangement for many years. This same situation exists for Gmail - I don't pay for Gmail thus I am the product. They don't directly make money off me in this way but rather they mine data to make their ads more relevant and it all feeds back into this cycle where my best interests play almost no role.
Will Pay for Software
At other times in my life I was pretty uninterested in paying money for software, especially if there was a free alternative. As I've gotten older and my financial situation has changed so has this attitude. I've actually come full circle and now prefer to pay for software! With some caveats of course.
I've also been gainfully employed as a person who makes software and so my views on what and to whom I should be paying money when I use software have changed too. When I see Twitter trying to get people to pay $8 for a blue check mark I want nothing to do with it. But when I see Tapbots trying to get people to pay for their excellent Mastodon client called Ivory then I'm like sign me up!
Turns Out Privacy Has Value
Given that I don't want to be a product and that I'm willing to pay for software then it follows that I believe my privacy has value! Value that I'm willing to spend real dollars on.
I'd consider paying Google money to respect my privacy but that's not their business model.
Finding Alternative to Google Services
So this all leads me back to a desire to migrate away from Google services. In my estimation the main things to migrate away from are:
- Google Search
I've already set Safari as my default web browser on my laptops so that first one isn't too hard. I will miss some of the features I've come to rely on with Chrome but I bet I'll adapt pretty quickly.
For Google Search there are def alternatives that would be easy to migrate to - DuckDuckGo seems like an easy one to pick. I'm also interested to try out a paid search engine but that'll take some experimentation.
Last is Gmail and I might have already overcome this pretty quickly. I asked my pal Erik about this and he recommended Fastmail. I've already set up an account and have migrated my 15+ years of email over so...maybe this is mostly done?
I still have to go through the process of updating friends and family about the new address and then update the LOTS of accounts that are tied to my old Gmail address but that's all something I can do over time.
Which is sort of a theme here - migrating to something else with an eye towards eventually deleting my Google account but not right away. Let's see how this goes!