In the name of Proactivity
In this day and age of connected living, our lives have been radically changed for the better. But on the down side, our privacy took a beating. In the name of proactive services, tech giants like Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft started creating services to “enrich” our lives with services like Facebook Advertising, Google Now, Siri and Cortana. Your behaviour online is fodder for these tech companies to create services, analyse future trends and monetize their ads network.
The last of the tech giants, Microsoft has now baked their cloud services extensively in the latest Windows 10 by collecting anonymous user logs back to its servers. This has been extensively covered by The Verge, click here for more.
If you use them, you will know how amazing these services are. These services made me feel like Tony Stark with my handy wingman Jarvis. These experiences were not only cool and got creepy at times in a good way.
Here comes DuckDuckGo, founded by Gabriel Weinberg, He decided to take real privacy to a whole new level. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t collect any user data. Of course, they don’t need to collect anything as they don’t have any other services to offer other than give you relevant search data. Fast Company magazine wrote an amazing article titled “Inside DuckDuckGo, Inside Google’s tiniest fiercest competitor“, click here to read more.
I got even excited when Apple made DuckDuckGo as an option to use as your default search engine for iOS. Apple during their 2015 WWDC announced that are taking strides in ensuring they are not taking the Google route and that privacy is a real concern and a matter of importance for their consumers. Click here to read more on TechCrunch
Embracing a bold new philosophy
I bought into their philosophy and immediately started taking steps to ensure my data was iron clad. I changed my default search engine to DuckDuckGo, revised my privacy setting in Google and diversified my tech portfolio (yes, I started using Microsoft Services).
It was great at first, I searched on DuckDuckGo and I was pretty surprised with the quality of the search results it produced. The UI was familiar and navigating around the site wasn’t a chore. On the other hand, Google Services started acting out. To name a few, Google constantly reminded me on how great life would get if i enabled Google Now to how terrible it would be if I didn’t enable the search history on Google Maps. Facebook too kept on asking me to enable location, update my phone number, update about me and so on. The only winner in this period was Microsoft as I started using Outlook as my primary email driver.
The next phase of my life didn’t want change
Then I entered the next chapter of my life with the arrival of my baby girl. I share more about my experience on daddy hood on Daddylogs. I searched constantly on how to swaddled her, feed her and what each of her need meant. But frustration grew as the search results were not what I was looking for. I had to move around quite a bit and Google couldn’t deliver as I didn’t fully embrace their services. Thinking it was only a phase, I grew even more frustrated and I manually started typing google.com and started searching for results. Two weeks later, I threw in the towel and changed to Google and its services.
Google has immensely invested into refining its results and its technologies over the years. Even with the introduction of Alphabet, Google’s world class algorithm is still a force to be reckoned with. Changing a behaviour that has been engrained over the years is not easy and I didn’t want to reorganise my digital life just because of a new philosophy. Even though I do understand the gravity of privacy and the need to defend it, I am a firm believer that companies will eventually circumvent these issues and create new concerns.
Basically, its a never ending cycle of cat and mouse.