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i thought of stories they told us long ago

maura @ 11:18 pm

So, as you may have noticed, Google was down for awhile this morning. I was at work, merrily (ha!) transcribing the instruction stats out of Google Calendar into a spreadsheet,* and suddenly event details wouldn’t load. But most of the info I needed was still cached, so I didn’t even realize something was wrong until our library technician swung by my cube to tell me that the library website was down (our Web Librarian was off campus at a meeting).

* Why yes, Google, I would very much like you to include the ability to export to a spreadsheet into Calendar, thus saving me a couple of hours of monkeywork each semester. Thanks for asking!

A little pounding on the keyboard confirmed that yes, the website was down. Our tech went to talk to the college IT folks while I set to posting notices on the library’s blog and Twitter. But the funny thing is, Twitter was excruciatingly slow and kept hanging, too. And I noticed in the status bar at the bottom of Firefox that it was spinning on I clicked around a little more and found that lots of the internets wasn’t loading, and they all seemed to be hanging on Google Analytics or Google Ads. Our library’s site uses the former to track usage stats, and we also use Google for our site search.

By the time I’d talked to our tech and we’d opened up the homepage and I determined that I don’t know enough javascript not to break the code, Google had fixed itself and all was right with the world. But I’ve been left all day with a lingering weirdness. It’s not that I use EVERY service that Google offers, and I’m definitely intrinsically suspicious of big giant companies that ostensibly provide lots of stuff for free. What do they do with our data? And what recourse do we have if when they fail? As Jonathan always says, we are not Google’s customers: the companies that pay to place Google Ads are.

But there’s no denying that over the past year I’ve become a heavy user of Google products, some might say junkie-level. We use Google Calendar to track reference, instruction and meetings at work. I use Google Docs and Spreadsheets to collaborate w/colleagues at MPOW and other colleges and do work from multiple computers (ref desk, my desk, home).

What really struck me today (and I know I’m not the only one, but it’s late and I’m too lazy to link to anything else) is that it wasn’t just that you couldn’t access Google services. All over the internets the sites that rely on Google Analytics and Ads were toasted. And my random clicking around made me think that it was a whole lotta internets that were affected.

Maybe Google is becoming Skynet.

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