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I Used Google for Everything for 30 Days, and Here’s What Happened

I Used Google for Everything for 30 Days, and Here’s What Happened

So as a long-form experiment regarding online life, I decided to cut myself off of online services and products that aren’t Google-owned or operated for a month. I was hoping to see just how far their reach was online and whether they could potentially gain a monopoly on the online marketplace. They clearly are the most popular search engine, but what about other services?

I had to find out. So I signed up or activated nearly every Google service under the sun, minimized all the others and started my journey. By the end, I hoped to answer the following questions. Here are my resulting thoughts:

Did I Miss Out on Essential Services?

My initial fears going into this project were mostly related to the services I thought essential. I used Amazon a lot. Would I be missing out in terms of being able to get products I needed? I used other tools for scheduling and planning my day-to-day activities. Would Google Calendar be able to suit all of my needs? Would my video calls be impossible?

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After 30 days, I felt partially inconvenienced, but there were no major issues in my life. On occasion, I was left out of certain events or told about certain information later than others. Many of my issues weren’t necessarily related to the inferiority of Google services and products, but the unpopularity of those services. Google Docs and Google Drive were mostly sufficient for my career needs. It was possible to take care of most of my shopping needs through searching with Google, even if it wasn’t as convenient.

I also imagine others having a completely different result depending on their lifestyle and profession. Google doesn’t have total dominance yet, and it shows. Google might not be enough if special needs are taken into consideration.

Could I Communicate?

It was a tad more difficult to reach people I don’t talk with too often, but after mentioning on social media platforms that I would be taking a month-long respite, people were quite understanding. Anyone who was concerned about contacting me got either my Gmail address or my phone number. Even Google admits that its social media platforms aren’t doing all that well in comparison with the industry leaders, so while I got more involved with Google Plus, it wasn’t all that useful. A social network requires people to network on it.

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While it was nice at the end of the month to scroll back and see what happened, I didn’t feel like I was missing all that much. Maybe I missed out on a sale that wasn’t communicated to me through a Google product or service, but I considered the opportunity costs of my time. Using only Google limited my communications to an extent, but they weren’t cut off. Instead, in my experience, they were filtered down to what truly mattered.

What About Entertainment?

So I didn’t have Netflix or Hulu for a month. It wasn’t too big a deal. YouTube is owned and controlled by Google, so nearly all of my video needs were met. While it is reliant upon content creators and licensing, there wasn’t too much of a concern when I needed something to do online. I even signed up for YouTube Red and got a pass for Google Music as part of the deal. While the services might not have been my first choice when it comes to streaming services, they proved sufficient enough. YouTube Red’s original content, however, was positively terrible.

I learned by the end that there is always something to watch on a platform given enough searching, minimizing the importance of a particular service. I still don’t have my Netflix account back, and more often do I actively search for content that fits my needs, not what I’m told I’d like. I feel simultaneously more trusting of Google and dismissive of its results.

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How Did You Deal with Smartphone Use?

Fortunately, I already had a phone running Android when I started the project, so in those terms, it was relatively easy to use my smartphone for browsing and online services just like my computer. Other than neglecting a few social networks and services I rarely used anyway, such as the freeware that came on my phone, I didn’t really pay much attention to the differences.

As far as keeping touch with friends and family to clarify plans or send quick messages, I found that the standard of texting and calling remained true. Google dominates the internet, but the internet doesn’t completely dominate our lives just yet. Its reach hasn’t become one with the air around us.

How Did I Feel by the End?

To be perfectly honest, I felt concerned with the ability of Google to do just about everything. One wonders about the ability of the market to control such a beast. While Google does some things (searching and email) better than others (Google Plus), there remains the fact that it has the infrastructure to dominate should another tech giant go under. Combine that with the visions the company has for the future and what could come out of their experiments, we can feel excited toward new technology yet cautious about how it’ll get used.

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On a smaller scale, I felt mildly inconvenienced, yet fine. The truth remains that while we do need the internet to work and communicate, a lot of other needs are manufactured and our time would be better spent reading books and growing gardens than checking new messages. Checking my Gmail served a purpose, but what was the purpose of checking Payton Manning’s Twitter every day? By the nature of the experiment, I was connected just a little less with technology, and it had a positive effect on my mind and spirit.

Do you have any thoughts on Google’s growing presence online? Are you afraid that they might become too powerful and form a monopoly on online life? Do you think there are any legitimate alternatives? Please leave a comment below and tell us what you think, and then get your friends in on the conversation.

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Google I Used Google for Everything for 30 Days, and Here’s What Happened

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Last Updated on May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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