oda: Chrome tab with a sad face on blue-violet field field (degoogle)
I thought it would be useful to have a presence here as I retreat from Google+.

(De-Googlefication; see original link for comments and elaboration.)

Taking the recent policy changes as the closest thing to a declaration of intent we seem likely to get, Project Googlefy which I had started prior to my testing of Google+ is now starting a 180 into Project De-Googlefy.

Why? Because as a prior Buzz/Picasa user affected by the fiat policy change, I am dissatisfied by a company that feels that it can make major changes to pre-established user privacy simply by introducing a new service. I would rather be more firmly divested in case they turn those policy changes loose on Gmail, and I'm generally very slow at making changes so need to get started now so I can pick at it in my slothlike fashion and don't end up falling off my comfortable tree-branch if it gets sawn off by future changes that I simply no longer trust Google to refrain from.

Yes, the horse can learn how to sing. But I am not holding my breath waiting for it to do so. As long as some groups of people receive disproportionate harassment and/or outright violence merely for being a member of that group, I am not interested in having a lot of my services tied up with a company that has clearly exhibited it simply does not understand privacy, or that it values privacy less than it values the appearance of conformity. (Especially as I am personally a member of at least one of those groups.)

So, step one: identify services.

  • Gmail: Been using it as a searchable archive/backup to my primary mail, an HTML mail reader (since I am text-only on my primary), a way to skim attachments, etc. I've already identified a potential alternative. There will be not inconsiderable pain in migrating an older archive like mine, given that the tools for migration are throttled down to moving only a few hundred messages at a time (IIRC; hopefully I'm wrong in that and I can let it run unattended.)

  • Docs: Collaboration with others, online spreadsheets. This has been a pretty good solution so far, and only improving as they add features, but I've already identified some alternatives. I don't have a huge store of docs, though some are rather crucial to our workflow, so this ought to be easy to migrate once I find a new home. Version controlled cloud storage could also be a solution here.

  • Android: Well, if I want to use the Android market (and to be honest, Amazon's market is a highly inferior alternative) I have to have a Google account. I guess I need to take a harder look at other smartphone OSes for future phone upgrades? Also I am a lot less excited than I was a month ago about having an Android tablet if apps on it can go suddenly defunct based on a random policy change. I might end up having to hold my nose and go Apple, who is at least predictable in its bad policies, or wait until there's another alternative. I'd been holding off on buying a tablet anyhow until the hardware improved, so this is not a priority. Luckily we are not locked into plans on our android phones, so the cost of switching phones is not excessive if that later becomes necessary. There also may be ways around the android market, by buying directly? Not sure; I haven't done a ton of research here yet.

  • Sites: Honestly I have found the site building software to be inferior to other solutions I've tried, though lower maintenance. I won't miss it very much. It might still be a pain to transition off. I'm glad I stopped adding data into that set when I started testing G+, because it's less to have to remove later.

  • Reader: Surely there is a cloud synced RSS reader solution out there somewhere. I just need to research it. Worst case I can probably run something out of cloud storage of some sort.= Calendar: See Reader.

  • Picasa: Had some sharing options that were pretty unique (or at least not readily available on Flickr), but I probably just need to look harder to replicate them. Will miss the ease of synchronization with a local store, but there might be desktop software out there that syncs readily with other solutions.

  • Google+: There may not be a decent substitute yet, but I can cope. I'll stay on while I document my progress at de-googlefying at the very least, and might stay on past that in the same way as I use facebook: exclusively to keep contact with a few people who are only there, and with my own data sequestered/segmented. Still thinking about where to draw the line on this one.

  • Chrome: This one is a sadness as Chrome puts up with my tab abuse and wimpy out of date desktop far better than Firefox does. Might hang onto this one to the bitter end, hoping Firefox solves some of its issues before I make the leap. Might decide it's all right to hang onto stuff that doesn't require any PII.

  • Search: Left off the original post, and it's important. Also: Ads (which I don't use but other people do) and Groups.
  • oda: monochromatic field of blue-violet (Default)
    Backdated crosspost from Google+; intended to explicate the various options that Google might be considering; original post has comments.

    Potential Pseudonym Options

    It's been clarified that using an initial for one or another of your real names is all right; that still hasn't been posted as policy but it is part of policy (or likely enough to become part of policy that we can operate as if it were already posted.)

    So the major clarification pending is on true pseudonyms. I see the likely choices as being between:

    1) Only Real Names but you can use initials, and if someone challenges your name you have to show Google a paper trail proving you have the right to it. This is the most restrictive but does afford privacy to those of us with unique real names and will allow many people with privacy concerns to operate here, as long as they do not possess both a unique first and last name. (Perhaps they could use middle names.)

    2) Pseudonyms are allowed but they must somehow "look" like real names by some criteria that is likely going to end up being subjective by necessity. These may or may not require a paper trail if challenged, i.e. pseudonyms will be allowed for people with pen names or who have operated a business or published works under their name, or who have subscribed to other major Real Name sites with their pseudonym (presumably lying to get in if they don't have any other paper trail?)

    2a) If there is policing of "real names" then it seems likely that the "legitimate namespace" will need to be modified to include names from other cultures that aren't formed from two words, to support people whose legal full names have unusual construction, etc. There are lots of different name constructions all over the world.

    3) Full pseudonyms such as Second Life avatar names that look like constructed names are allowed. Likely this option will not require a paper trail, recognizing that it's hard to provide one for such names and that it's a double standard to enforce a paper trail only for names that "look funny." These names will need to be well-formed without numbers or symbols, formed from alphabetical characters only, and will likely (IMO) be machine-screened for offensive language, which is less subjective than for "looking like a real name". I would hope that there is an appeals process for the screening so that people with a last name like 'Woodcock' could operate under their real name here if they desire.

    I think we're going to have one of these. I prefer (3), and would feel that (2) was "quite good" as long as there was no paper trail requirement but only the normal requirement to act in good faith (no spamming, operating as a business on non-business profiles, harassment, griefing, defrauding, etc.) (1) addresses my basic privacy concerns but doesn't at all help people who are better known under psuedonyms, which is why I prefer the other two options even though my own profile has been clarified to be safe from suspension for using an initial.

    This is an edited comment from this very long thread: https://plus.google.com/102376799902430080799/posts/9pPNgN6wbzk

    July 2012

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