When a professor mentioned the underdog search engine Duck Duck Go in class, I decided to abandon Google search for a week to test it out. The site was created by a MIT graduate in Pennsylvania and known for its simplicity, little advertising, and user privacy. One week later, I have no intention of returning to Google.
And here is why:
Google search saves all your information, your past searches, and your identity. Everything you do online is bound to show up again, in advertisements mostly. This can be kind of annoying when your spout of frantic searching for a rash medication—or something equally embarrassing—haunts you for the next three months in web advertisements, long after the rash disappeared. This customer-catered Google service does nothing but bombard you with your saved information. It makes you wonder what else they do with that information.
Google also produced applications such as Google Maps and Google Books that take photos of your house, or track what books you are reading, and when you are reading them. In extreme cases, terrorists have used Google Maps to plot attacks, and businesses have been falsely marked as “permanently closed” by competitors.
Techdirt writer, Mike Masnick, defended Google’s controversial “bigness” as not necessarily being a bad thing. He raised the point of Google not harming customers with it’s high capital. Maybe Google is not exactly harming people in their domination of the web world, but their control doe make me nervous. Google’s extension has become too monopolized, putting them in a controversial spotlight.
I asked myself why I should risk the possible privacy breach when there are other search engines available. Didn’t you hear? It’s not cool to be mainstream anymore. So, I stepped out of the blinding spotlight on Google and into a more duck-friendly web.
Duck Duck Go has some pretty neat features. One thing I like about it is the minimal advertising. Another is that history does not repeat itself, meaning it does not save all your past searches. The search is very focused and results in a box around the most relevant sites to your searched phrase. There is a “bang” feature, which lets you fast forward to a specific site.
Yet, with new changes, there is always some reminiscing. I miss some things about Google search. I miss searching by image, Google predicting what I am wanting to find by instantly loading pages as I type, and I do miss the Google maps popping up when I search for a place, as creepy as it may be.
Yet, it’s only been a week and I’m still learning about Duck Duck Go. Maybe I really can get all of Google’s goodness without actually using Google.