Google Web Accelerator

Given that not too long ago I posted about the auto-link feature in Google’s toolbar, it seems like I should at least speak up about the new Google Web Accelerator as well.

Before I do, though, I want to make it clear that right now I trust Google. I haven’t seen them do anything that would cause me to not trust them, and I can see from their excellent work on things like Google Maps that they really do wish to make the internet useful for everyone. Some people don’t trust them simply because Google makes a lot of money, but I don’t subscribe to that belief system at all. I prefer living in a world where people can earn money from what they’re good at, so I have no qualms about Google getting rich from their innovations.

But the question isn’t, “Do we trust Google enough to allow something like Google Web Accelerator?” The question is really, “Fifty years from now, can we still trust them?” After fifty years of change, upheaval, etc., will they still be the “do no evil” company? Hard to say.

Which is why something like Google Web Accelerator is a little, well, unnerving. Serving as a proxy for everyone’s web activity in order to figure out what people are clicking is certainly a brilliant (and unexpected) move on their part, and in the short term I’ll enjoy seeing what they do with this information. I expect them to do much more with this data than simply use it to prioritize their search results. After all, this is attention data that they’re getting, and that’s incredibly valuable to an awful lot of people, especially advertisers and marketers.

Part of me wants to say, “Go, Google, go!” After all, they’re making the Internet OS happen, and they’re doing a hell of a job on it. But I get nervous whenever one entity gets access to so much private data, especially when I consider that no matter how trustworthy they are, they still have to submit to government requests for information access.

So, do you trust Google enough to feel comfortable about this? And how will you feel in fifty years?

14 thoughts on “Google Web Accelerator

  1. I think it’s safe to say that since they’re currently NOT supporting cookies and SSL that most users’ important information would not be divulged. However, if you use GMail, you’ve obviously got a potential issue there since they will have your email in a DB or directory somewhere.
    I think that software that communicates across the ‘inkernet’ (including FeedDemon and TopStyle) requires trust because I’m asking someone else to do something for me. I trust you, Nick, and I trust Google for now as well.

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  2. My sentaments exactly. With things like the patriot act and just the sheer volume we are subjected to while using the internet today, thats a big trust issue. But seriously, are people having trouble with 1-3 mbps? I mean really, is that not fast enough? Personally I turn all caching off in my browser the best I can, especially when developing, the last thing I would ever want to do is to use something like this.

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  3. I still trust them. Once again – you don’t have to install this.
    It will be interesting to see how Google reacts to some of the problems – will they ignore them or change the behaviour of the application?
    I agree with Ryan’s sentiments however – how much of an improvement is this going to give uses esp. on fast connections? I’d rather they were just obvious about it and released it as some sort of public spider. “Help us spider the web” sort of thing… almost like the SETI app – mindless surfing (on) – working, developing, private things (off).

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  4. Using Google as a huge proxy is not much different to subscribing to AOL and using their huge proxys. Didn’t you wonder why Time Warner sold $1billion of GOOG shares a couple of days prior to the Web Accelerator announcement…

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  5. I dont trust Google, I trust God. Fifty years from now is too far away. I’m not even that old, and I might not live 50 years longer…

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  6. GWA – neuer Spaß mit Google

    Der Google Web Accelerator, ein Proxy und Browser-Plugin von Google scheint ein echtes Beta-Spaß-Geek-Tool zu sein. Der tiefergehende Nutzen dieses Tools scheint mir zuallererst beim Anbieter zu liegen, denn Breitband-Zugänge erfordern nun…

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  7. I trust them. I’m the kind of person that gives everybody the benefit of the doubt until they prove me wrong. Then, it’s almost impossible to gain my trust again.
    Google has yet to show they can’t be trusted, although the whole AdWords thing of theirs does make me think twice.

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  8. Well, given the enormous amount of data Google currently collects and will furthermore collect, concern is quite understandable. And given the way most countries handle privacy concerns since September 11th, it is definitely necessary.
    Far more people should question not only the use of their data, but even their acquisition…!

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