Thursday, June 3, 2010


Google has its good points, especially its search function, and I use it frequently, but it also includes the specter of an evil apparition, hovering over our every move, detailing our actions, creating an archive for future abuse. It also, as a purely digital entity, can be a real hassle to deal with.

My first encounter with Google was through I chose it over a fee site for two reasons in spite of the fact that the other was quite superior to Google’s blogspot in some ways – it included many more choices of layout, for instance. First, it’s free: The way my finances are I didn’t want to commit myself to paying an annual fee though it wasn’t that large, only $50 per year. Secondly, blogspot is very well known and easily recognizable by most internet users. In fact, I don’t even remember the name of the fee site, which only proves my point.

My first difficulty with Google happened when I tried to sign up for a Google account and got my two email accounts mixed up. I entered the wrong username so of course it didn’t work. It said I didn’t need a Google account to use blogspot so I signed up that way. However, every time I signed in a message came up asking me to verify my email address for a Google account so I thought I should try to do it. Unfortunately, every time I clicked on the link I was sent around in circles. I tried every which way but couldn’t get it to work.

Well, I thought, I’ll contact them and tell them what the problem is. Only problem with that is there is no way to contact them. I tried for a good 20 minutes to find a place to send an email; it was impossible. There were, undoubtedly, real people to contact at the fee blogging service. Google is so wealthy, it’s hard to understand why they couldn’t spend a little money to hire human beings for something other than programming, because sometimes programs get confused and need human intelligence to straighten things out.

My next problem had to do with a link that used to be at the top of the blog page which said, Flag this site. I wouldn’t have known what that meant except that people kept flagging my site. It had to do with reporting abuse; meanwhile there was nothing included to notify you of what the supposed abuse was or anyway to defend yourself since contacting Google is impossible. Lately, Flag this site has been replaced with, Report abuse so maybe now there’s an actual person who looks at the site before it gets blacklisted.

There are also a couple of small glitches when I enter the text for a blog. I cut and paste from a Word file but every time I go to preview the text before publishing it says, Your html is unacceptable (It’s a Word file, dummy) and I have to check the box which says ignore html.

When I write I always include a space between paragraphs because it’s much easier to read that way. When I check out the text in the preview it comes with spaces between paragraphs, but when it’s published the spaces disappear and all the paragraphs are stuck together. I have to take and add a space manually between each paragraph for it to come out right.

Now you’d think after all the crap Google put me through, when I needed a third email address for a pseudonym I would’ve chosen something other than gmail. Once again, I’m sorry I chose Google. I always avoid anything to do with Microsoft so MSN was out and Yahoo is too busy with ads and assorted gibberish. There are lots of free independent email sites but once again I thought gmail is so well known it’d be better than an obscure one. It’s also very well designed.

I realized after I sent the first email using the pseudonym that it went out under my real name. What the F..? After that I figured out how to not have my real name there. Then the first time I logged into blogspot the false name showed up and I had to correct that. Exactly what I didn’t want.

Now it’s easy to imagine how Google could mix up the two if I logged in from the same computer each time since all computers now have unique identity numbers (frightening concept). However, I do all my online stuff at internet shops so I use a different computer almost every time and besides I log in in two different cities. And, of course, there’s no way to contact them to ask why and how they are doing that. Besides, what business of theirs is it to search out and confuse and automatically use my two names without asking me first?

Actually a similar thing happens in relationship to Amazon. I’m putting my books on Kindle, Amazon’s digital reader. When I go to the Kindle page, sometimes even before I sign in, my name is there! They think they’re so smart, they can know my name before I even tell them, but it’s an uncanny digital ability just waiting for an evil intent.

Is there any possibility of privacy left on the internet? Probably not in the age of Facebook. It

took me a long time to get into the Facebook thing. I’ve had my own website for about 14

years now so I shouldn’t be very shy about being out there in public, but Facebook is different.

I don’t use it to post daily gossip the way some people do, posting only occasionally, but it’s

quite spectacular to be able to keep track of disparate groups of friends around the world. I’ve got family plus groups of friends from Portland, commune days, Kunming, Thailand and Cambodia and it’s great to see their faces and get an inkling of what they’re doing.

I occasionally flash back to people I’ve met while traveling from before the internet who I’ve lost contact with and wish they would somehow happen on to me somewhere on the internet by accident. Now with email, not to mention Facebook, it’s very easy to keep in touch all over the world. On the other hand it would also be quite easy for anyone who wanted to do me or my contacts harm to hack into my Facebook account in order to keep track of all of my circles of friends and family. I fear the lack of privacy, but also can’t see separating myself from the benefits of staying in contact.

Now Facebook wants to set it up for users to travel the internet with their Facebook identity… one frightening specter after another.

We are always going to be doing things which someone will think is wrong or inappropriate... toking up is probably the best example, but as little as advocating for change can get the authorities on your back. In America, anti-war groups are on terrorist watch lists and environmentalists are sometimes targeted as enemies of society. At every demonstration plainclothes police take videos of protesters for later targeting.

In Cambodia, the craziest things are possible but wherever we are we’re stuck. If you do much with the internet, pseudonym or not, you’ve essentially bared your soul and are challenging the powers that be to find a supposed character flaw which they can target and exploit. It may seem benign now, but times can change very quickly. And we’ll have nowhere to hide.

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