Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Google Reader Update

The Google technologies just keep on improving: I've just started to use the new version of Google's feed reader, and I really think this is the browser-based reader which makes fat-client reader applications redundant (well, for me at least).  I have been using RSS Owl, an Eclipse RCP application which I think is very good (and cross-platform, and free), but I really want to store my RSS feed subscriptions on the web rather than copy a file around, and my requirements for a reader are pretty basic.



How much further will I want to go with this?  I already use GMail and the Google Calendar, which effectively makes Outlook redundant, and the Google Notebook for capturing material and scribbles quickly, and storing those on the web too.  I'm not sure about the Writely word processor and the spreadsheet (whatever that's called) - when I last used Writely (months ago) it wasn't very impressive.  But there is little doubt in my mind that for web-oriented applications, and for basic calendar/diary stuff, keeping things on the web and accessing them through a browser is almost ideal, provided I can rely on being 'always connected'.  Broadband in the UK is becoming more and more like running water: only the remotest places don't have it.



The bigger question is whether I trust Google with all my data.  How comfortable am I that Google can (in principle, if not in fact) read my emails, see my calendar, know what sites I monitor via RSS/Atom, and read my notes and documents?  Currently, none of this bothers me in the least, for a number of reasons.  First, there are other large companies which already know far more about me (and my lifestyle) than Google does: my bank and the supermarkets I use, for example.  Second, I can choose what I store in any of the Google applications, and I could easily and cheaply encrypt anything I didn't want stored en clair.  Lastly, I'm pretty sure that anyone looking at my Google data would have a hard time finding anything worth exploiting anyway: I'm not stupid enough to store  anything truly valuable there.  Every day, we all leave behind us trails of transactions, CCTV images, cellphone location updates, building entry/exit events, etc.  These things are (for most of us) completely out of our control: is it paranoia, stupidity or vanity that makes people talk-up the 'danger' of online services?


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