Archive for September, 2012
To the average Internet user, “Google” has become such a ubiquitous term, used so often that in the June and July of 2006, it was, as a transitive verb, added respectively to the Oxford English Dictionary, and the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Much to the displeasure of the corporation, the word(s) “Googling” or “to Google” were now used in colloquial language to mean obtaining information from the Web through not only Google.com, but also any other search engine.
The pervasiveness of “Google” simply cannot be ignored; when the word is mentioned, what’s brought to mind is not only the search engine, but also Google Maps and Google Earth, and their controversial technology Google Street View, which provides panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world; Gmail, its popular email service; Google+, its slightly less popular social networking website; and of course, Google Chrome, its widely-used Internet browser.
Google Chrome has quickly surpassed several other Web browsers available, in terms of global usage share – in May 2012, Chrome held more than 30% of market share. And who could fault users for being attracted to this particular Web browser? Not only is it designed with minimalism and sleekness in mind, a look that appeals to many teenagers, young adults and professionals, Chrome is also free, user-friendly, customizable, and armed with a whole arsenal of themes and Web applications, all available through the Chrome Web Store.
Like that of many others who discovered Chrome for the first time, my eyes instantly lit up. I instinctively hit the download button, enthusiastically setting it as my default browser in place of Internet Explorer by Microsoft, which had been giving me quite a few problems during that period. I then spent the next ten minutes consecutively customizing Chrome to my preference, reading an article on the pros and cons of using the browser, and feeling horrified enough to consider uninstalling it.
As it turns out, Google Chrome has a particular feature that other Web browsers do not, and that is the amalgamation of the search bar and the URL bar into one, where users will type anything – whether a search term, or part of a URL – and instantly receive suggestions and results provided only by the Google search engine, right at Chrome. There is no longer a need to think where you want to go – Google Chrome will tell you that typing the letters “f-a-c” means you want to visit “Facebook”, so just hit “enter” or click on the link that pops up. As in the words of blogger Daniel Tsadok, this essentially means that “Google is setting itself up as a proxy for the rest of the internet”. He continues to caution that “(G)iven a certain critical mass of Chrome usage, Google can simply “disappear” a website it doesn’t like, and Chrome users would have no way to get to it. Even if you entered the site’s URL directly into the box, it would still be going through Google. Your access to information will be completely dependent on what Google wants you to see”, though adding that this potentially frightening phenomenon will not take place for the next few years, as Chrome is yet to have the market share required to exercise such power.
Many have read George Orwell’s famed novel, entitled “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, which tells of the dystopic world of Oceania, where war is perpetual, government surveillance is omnipresent, and individualism is punishable by law. More have dismissed it as merely a work of fiction by a genius mind, believing that something so fantastic could never happen in our democratic society. And while I am inclined to agree that things may not ever reach such massive proportions in our real world, I have to admit that Big Brother is still watching you, even if he keeps in mind to “Don’t Be Evil”.
Ironically enough, all of my research for this blog post was done through Google Chrome, which I never got around to uninstalling for lack of one that works better for me. And I’m glad to say that I was able to access all of the required links without trouble, despite most of them being less than complimentary of the browser, showing that Tsadok was right; we don’t have to worry about a digital 1984.
At least not yet.