Google's Incredible Omnipresence

Like many of my fellow pundits, I've pointed out more than once that Google has never had a smash success beyond search. After all, text advertising, predominantly via Google's own websites, will account for around 90% of its total revenue this year. Search for Google is on such a galactic scale that it's easy to be dismissive of the many other tentacles the company has spread throughout the Web -- and throughout our lives.

As it turns out, I've been lulled into the Googletrix, without even noticing. Despite using multiple Google products daily, I hadn't really stopped to think about how many ways my online existence overlaps with a single Mountain View, Calif. company. The listings at the top of my Gmail screen -- for Calendar, Groups, Maps and more -- had faded into the background and ceased to register.

But the other day, while adjusting the settings on my AdWords account, I wandered into my account preferences. From there, I stumbled on the My Account settings for all my Google accounts. And then, out of curiosity, I clicked a link that said, "View data stored with this account." And that's when I realized that I am irretrievably connected to this machine, that it breathes for me and pumps my blood and supplies me with nutrients through a mechanical umbilicus in a fashion never before seen in nature. I took the red pill, and here's what I got:




  • Six active Google alerts.
  • Four Analytics accounts, with four website profiles.
  • A Blogger account, with three entries.
  • Google Books, with five bookshelves. (I have no idea how I got five bookshelves. I've never heard of Google Books before.)
  • Buzz, which I use exclusively to keep up with David Berkowitz, since he's the only person I know who posts there.
  • Three Calendars, shared with a total of 11 people.
  • Gmail, with 67,000 conversations. No wonder I'm at 98% of my storage space.
  • Google contacts -- to which I have authorized access to Facebook.
  • YouTube -- to which I have authorized access to Facebook.
  • Google Calendar -- to which I have authorized access to (Really? I needed to cross-authorize access? When did I do that?)
  • Docs. I could use this more, I suppose: 17 owned by me, 17 shared with me, 40 opened by me.
  • One Feedburner feed.
  • Membership to three Google Groups.
  • iGoogle, with five gadgets installed that I never use.
  • Orkut. This is getting ridiculous. How the heck am I on Orkut? I must have signed up in a fit of drunken social media exploration. The dashboard tells me I've got one album, shared with all friends. I went to check it out. There's nothing in the album, but hey! I can see all my Gmail Chat contacts in there! Bet they didn't know they were on Orkut either.
  • Picasa: one album, four pictures.
  • Google Reader: three subscriptions.
  • Something called "Social Circle and Content." I don't even know what that means.
  • Talk.
  • Tasks.
  • Web history, of course. I'm not embarrassed to admit the most recent video search I did was for "Lonely Island." Those guys are hilarious!
  • Webmaster Tools: two sites.
  • YouTube, only showing one account, of course. (See last week's column for why this is only the tip of the iceberg.)
  • And, at the bottom, products I use or have used but that aren't yet available on the dashboard: AdWords, Wave, App Engine, and News.


Yes, I know it reads like a modern-day version of a partridge in a pear tree, and I know this collection of data should have been obvious, especially since I hardly consider myself a n00b when it comes to this stuff. But seeing it all laid out like that was startling -- and not altogether pleasant.

That being said, though, it's not unpleasant enough for me to stop using any Google accounts -- and that's how we continue to condition ourselves further, to submit ourselves further, to subsume ourselves further into this literal electronic matrix dominated by the agents of this one search company, and, increasingly, that other social network company.

How do you feel about being digitally enveloped? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments or via @kcolbin.

2 comments about "Google's Incredible Omnipresence".
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  1. Jacqueline Dooley from Jacqueline Dooley Internet Marketing, November 9, 2010 at 10:54 a.m.

    This is absolutely terrifying, mostly because I have a feeling I could draw up a very similar list.

  2. David Thurman from Aussie Rescue of Illinois, November 10, 2010 at 10:24 a.m.

    I am owned by G. Embraced Android, G-Voice and I had so many emails, and pictures in them that I had to up my storage to the 100 gig option. Getting pictures is important for dog rescue.

    As much as I am against monopolies, I must say that Google gives me a lot of what I need. Since I am so boring I am not real worried about what they know about me. When I want privacy (I hope it's private) I use the Incognito feature.

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