The primary reason anyone uses Google is to manage the torrent of information available on the world wide web.
Its search function is why we visit Google. Advertising is what keeps it going.
There has never been a company with such explicit ambitions to connect individual minds with information on a global — in fact universal — scale.
The scope of Google’s mission sets it apart from any company that has ever existed in any medium. It hosts e-mail for millions of users.
Google Voice offers a voice-over-Internet-provider (VoIP) that competes with Skype’s long-distance Internet phone service.
It facilitates payment for Web-based commerce through Google Checkout. That’s not all, Google is also a software company.
It now offers online software such as a word processor, spreadsheets, presentation software, and a calendar service-all operating “in the cloud” and thus freeing users from managing multiple versions of their files and applications on different computers, and easing collaboration with others.
A few years ago, Google released its own Web browser called Chrome, despite many years of collaborating with the Mozilla foundation in supporting the open-source Firefox browser.
On top of all that, since 2004, Google Book Search project has scanned millions and millions of volumes and has made many of them available online at no cost, simultaneously appropriating the functions of libraries on the one hand and the rights of publishers on the other.
And since 2005 the company has been Googlizing the real world through Google Maps, Street View, and Google Earth, a service that allows users to manipulate satellite images to explore the Earth from above.
Through Gmail, Google stores and never deletes your email. They catalog it and can do a lot with that data. With time, Google can write programs to find out every bit of data about you, who you know, who you talk about, where you socialise and much more.
Gmail bundled with Orkut Google really has a solid grip on your social network with more detail and structure than email alone.
To get even further into your life, they have the Google Desktop Search which has already been called on being invasive bypassing security on people’s PC’s and cataloging files that it shouldn’t.
Google now knows who you know, what you talk about, details about every person, everything you say on your computer, what files you have, what is in each file, basically all of your digital data.
The reason Google has so many fingers in so many pies is because underpinning everything, and our lives, is information.
Google’s public mission statement is “To Index the World’s Information” which, when taken to its logical conclusion, it means everything in the known universe.
Google’s semi-public beef with Facebook was not that the latter had a social network and Google did not but that Facebook refused Google access to the data it held in its Social Graph, creating in effect, a walled garden into which Google’s bots could not peer. When negotiations broke down Google retaliated by creating Google+.
Many have hailed Google+ as Google’s social network and a direct competitor to Facebook but in reality it is nothing of the sort.
Whereas the latter created functionality which enabled the user to draw in as much of the web as they could into Facebook, Google+ goes the other way, providing an entire set of tools which are designed to open up the web further and socialise every part of it.
The trillion dollar question is: ‘is this a bad thing?’ Right now, no it isn’t. While Google is a corporation which, like all corporations, is focused on delivering shareholder value and a healthy bottom line, it has also provided a quick response in earthquake zones through its Crisis Response Team.
As for that massive data will be used tomorrow, only time will tell.
Sam Wambugu is a monitoring and evaluation specialist. Email: email@example.com