Life Without Google Gets Thumbs Up

    May 8, 2007

It’s common knowledge that quitting smoking is hard, and I’ve even known a couple people who had a tough time cutting back their caffeine intake.  But James Thomas did the unthinkable: he gave up Google.

Life Without Google Gets Thumbs Up
Life Without Google Gets Thumbs Up
Life Without Google Gets Thumbs Up

Call it an act of paranoia or a worthy search experiment – the experience actually seems to have functioned as both – but Thomas blocked Google in all its forms (and on both his personal and work computers) a little over two weeks ago.

“The amount of data they’re gathering on me is frightening,” he reasoned.  “Not because of Google, but because I’m positive the government will legislate their way into Google’s database sooner or later and start labeling people as suspicious.”

Anyway, after Thomas shut out the search engine giant (see Thomas’s site for the specifics), the experiment began.  “The first and most obvious thing I noticed is that some of my favorite websites loaded faster,” he wrote.  That’s good, right?

Yes, but perhaps not enough to make up for Thomas’s next statement.  “I’m not going to lie,” he added, “life without Google has been hell online.”

Chris Pirillo made some similar comments when he “Googlefasted” in 2006.  “I’m frustrated,” he wrote.  “Utterly frustrated.  I don’t think I’ll be able to make the seven days, seriously.  I thought that Yahoo! would be a great substitute, but that’s turning out not being the case.  Googlefasting is painful.”

Yet by the end of the fast, Pirillo seemed bored with the whole thing, and he actually extended his Google-less period to 12 days.  In the same way, Thomas made his peace with Yahoo and other substitutes.  But he then decided to give up Google permanently.

“I’ve found that I can get by, and even be more productive, without Google,” Thomas declared.  Yet, like the experiment itself, this decision appeared to stem as much from concern as from comfort.  “‘Don’t Be Evil” is a great motto to have,” he stated.  “However, I consider gathering every move I make on the internet to be evil and a violation of my privacy.”

Still, this proves once again that Google – however monolithic it may at times appear – has not yet made itself indispensable.