Hi, please

A Week Without Google

Hi Mom,

I am sorry but I won’t be using my Gmail this week. It’s for class… an experiment. Don’t ask…
Anyway, until next Tuesday please email me at yourson@some-other-obscure-email-service.com

I promiss it is not personal, I still love you and dad. But I have to do this.
I hope you can understand and will still love me even after a week without Google.

Your son,

For Next Week (until Feb 2nd):

Experiment: A week without Google

In the coming week starting from the end of this class we will attempt to make it through a whole week without using any Google service. Not Google Search, not Gmail, not Google Talk, not Google Video, not Google Docs, not Google Maps, not Google Earth, not Google News, not Google Groups, not Youtube, not Google Video, not Blogger, not Picasa, not Google Calendar, not Google Checkout, not iGoogle, not Google Translate,not Google Voice, not Google Chrome, not Google Wave, not Google Sidewiki, if you have an Android phone, you are not allowed to use Google services with it, talk and text only… you get the point. (for a partial list of what you are not allowed to use, go here… while you still can…)

It’s not going to be easy and hence we will not attempt to create an unfeasible challenge. We will keep a promise to each other to follow some rules:

  1. Whenever we are passively exposed to Google content (an embedded Google video, map, and so on…) we post that link to delicious.com (this is how to post to delicious.com) using the tags ‘tdmcc’, ‘weekwithoutgoogle’ and ‘ambushed’ (+whatever else you want to include)
  2. Whenever we break and use a Google service, we report about it to the blog, as a comment on this post.
  3. If we totally break altogether, we write a post about it as soon as we decide to pull out, summarizing the experience.

We will also try to support each other in the process by:

  1. If you use Gmail, please make sure to set a forward on your email to another email service (either on or offline). Please do that as the first thing you do after this class, and not later than 8am tomorrow morning.
  2. Every time you are about to use Google, and find a way around it, try to propose the alternative to the class by tagging the alternative with the tags ‘tdmcc’, ‘weekwithoutgoogle’ and ‘dodged’.
  3. Share tactics on the blog. Work together to try to make it.
  4. Previous classes found the use of this Firefox plugin useful, so if you find you just can’t trust yourself use it to block any Google domain. In the options add the following urls:

    (am I missing anything?)(I know I am)

This is trust based only, but those of us who will manage to take this challenge on and make it through the week will win the class’s medal of honor.

Good luck!
(we’re going to need it)

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  1. HoniehBarak 10:57, Jan 27th, 10

    So I broke the class google restriction already! I logged into Adium, which has all of my IM clients automatically logging on, before I could go to my preferences my Gchat was online. I went ahead and signed off. My next task was to login to our system platform to do some programming and none other than GOOGLE showed up as my default homepage. Yes, I have reset it.

    So much for abstaining from Google. Wish we me well! :)

  2. HoniehBarak 12:14, Jan 27th, 10

    Yet again! I spoke to my immediate supervisor about the predicament I am in and he found it to be very interesting. He told me that most people might have more difficulty with the email functionality more than any of their other products (I beg to differ).

    As we are discussing this – we get on a call with a client and he says to me – “Hey Honieh, Can you pull the client’s Google Analytics website visits for me.”

    My boss basically says, “Ooops! That’s Right. Nevermind, Don’t do it, I’ll figure it out.” I went ahead and pulled it up for him since he was on an important call.

    In the midst of his call he says “YOUR NOT ALLOWED TO DO THAT REMEMBER?”

    This experiment is creating an interesting work environment on my end, but at least my boss is helping me stay on track somewhat!


  3. mushon 13:18, Jan 27th, 10

    This is awesome…
    I’m doing pretty good so far. My wife brought up a Google map this morning when we were discussing a trip we have later this year, but I managed to close my eyes in time. So I’m good for now. :)

    I also got Leechblock set. Much recommended.

  4. Alexandra 13:33, Jan 27th, 10

    I use Google Chrome as my browser so I had to switch to Firefox this morning and realized that I don’t know any of my passwords, including to Facebook… I am used to the address bar in Chrome being a default Google search, so when I got to Firefox I realized this was no longer the case. Then I went to type in the Google search bar within Firefox and realized that wasn’t allowed either. So I had to sort of guess at the URL I was looking for. Oy!

  5. ElzbthMllr 13:49, Jan 27th, 10

    I am 12+ hours into the challenge and have had several close calls, but have resisted! When I first got to work I nearly googled the dates for an upcoming conference I am attending for work. Instead, I picked up the phone and called the conference organizers. It took about 5 minutes longer than it normally would have, but I figured it out. I think this is goign to be the longest week of my life.

  6. HoniehBarak 13:58, Jan 27th, 10

    Oh btw – forgot to mention that I had to avoid all calls that I am receiving from my Google voice numbers that are being re-routed to my mobile. (I feel guilty even typing the word Google!!)

    I guess I’ll speak to those people later! Ha! I like this!

    If I receive a text Mushon – should I ignore that as well?


    P.S. I hope this is my last comment!!

  7. Ryan 15:59, Jan 27th, 10

    I accidently put something in google search but realized the sin that I had just committed so I x-ed out of it and switched over to its counter search engine yahoo.
    Phewwwww. A little slip up, but doing ok so far.

  8. juliette b 16:34, Jan 27th, 10

    Surprisingly I have already spent 12 hours without google!!!!

    I have set everything and so far I can live without it…

    Well I know it’s only the beginning though! And I already owe a lot Leechblock!!! Thanks for the tip!

  9. Leslie 17:27, Jan 27th, 10

    Well, I just realized that I’ve had my first 2 little mishaps. I clicked on a link from a friend to watch a video on Youtube. I watched part of the video, simply stopping it because I did not want to continue viewing it. I did not realize until a few minutes after I stopped it the sin I had just committed!

    I also started searching for some work-related information in the search box in the upper right hand corner of my Firefox page, completely forgetting that it’s a Google search. Using certain Google products is such an automated behavior; I’ve been consciously trying to not use Google, yet it happens without even a second thought at times.

    I will definitely be setting that Leechblock ad-on now!

  10. nadine 00:44, Jan 28th, 10

    Site blocked, site blocked,…at least Leechblock is doing its work..arg…yahoo map is really not an alternative.
    And I need some documents I’ve stored on GoogleDocs…But the most annoying is university life without GoogleScholar. I don’t really find my articles in the Bobst catalogue. I don’t get their search engine!

  11. HoniehBarak 11:35, Jan 29th, 10

    Couple of mishaps today. Yesterday I did so well.

    My network went down today at work, so I was troubleshooting with a few of the tech guys and he comes over and says..

    “Hey Honieh, it’s back up, see!!” – Of course he was on Google.com and I turned my head away.

    Second mishap – I was sending an attachment from my iPhone to a friend. Without realizing it – the account I was sending my email from was GMAIL.

    Other than that it has been smooth sailing!

    I have 36 emails in my inbox on gmail.. and I don’t plan on opening any!

  12. mushon 11:48, Jan 29th, 10

    Honieh, you are a brave brave girl. We are all very proud of you. Keep up the good work.

    I delicioused it, but just wanted to share here too that I’m really enjoying Etherpad as a Gdocs alternative. Etherpad is basically like Google Wave, only nicer since you don’t need to log in and you collaborate by simply sharing a URL. It keeps versioning for your document and highlights different contributions. It has exports to different formats including html, doc & pdf.

    It’s an interesting story too. Google bought them to hire their brains to the Google Wave team (and to remove the competition). Etherpad announced the deal and closed shop, by that cutting people from the service, including current collaborated docs. As you can imagine, the geeks were pissed and Google got bad PR from it. The only way for them to get out of this mess was to temporarily reopen Etherpad and release its code to the community. The pirates from PiratePartiet (& The Pirate Bay) announced PiratePad.net the day after the code was released.

    Pretty good outcome overall.

  13. nadine 16:20, Jan 29th, 10

    I sinned, I failed!!!! Break-down :-( I am sorry! I need to do these readings for my other class by Monday, though I can’t find the book in the library, interlibrary loan takes ages, the book is quite expensive- 35USD, so the Bookstore is no option, and I couldn’t get the full view on scribd. Google books has all my chapters…Irony of the game> the book title is: Piracy- The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates…

    Sorry friends! Though, I will try to keep up until Tuesday. Honieh, you are really a great soldier!!!!

    PS: Back to my Bobst library- problem: I’ve noticed that I am so used to use google, that I’ve really got trouble with the Bobst search engine. It just works different! Altough, I think it’s not that efficient- there is no auto-correction, tags work differently, catalogs aren’t centralized, etc. Or am I just conditioned?

  14. Leslie 11:46, Jan 31st, 10

    Ahh! Sorry to hear about the breakdown, Nadine! I’ve had a similar problem with you, though, concerning using other search engines- I’m either just brainwashed from Google, or other search engines simply aren’t as good. I’ve been using Yahoo & Bing. I enjoy Bing’s set up, but Yahoo just seems to be missing some major search results sometimes.

    Yesterday, I was playing around with MapQuest’s iPhone app, in lieu of the Google Maps app, and it just does not seem as good at all. You cannot get subway or walking directions, which is a huge downfall; only driving directions. The overall map is just harder to read, too.

  15. lindai 14:29, Jan 31st, 10

    omg, it is not easy, i have to admit!
    accidentally, i used the google search of my browser, i opened a you tube link that a friend sent via my gmail account which i luckily redirected to another account..
    then my mom asked me to check on her gmail account because she could not access it and i have somehow become her personal IT helpdesk (i referred her to someone else this time). finally, i got this “someone has googled you” message which i will not check until next week despite my curiosity.
    well, i keep trying my best and stop immediately when i realize my sin.

    @ leslie: try the “hopstop” app for iPhone if you need directions.

  16. HoniehBarak 15:11, Jan 31st, 10

    I posted a You Tube video on my Travelogue, FORGETTING that this medium, was part of the Google Challenge.

    I am itching to open my Gmail… uh oh!

  17. Harris 15:59, Jan 31st, 10

    My experience has been mixed so far. Based on the three violations and several near-violations I made, I have noticed the following:

    a) Google has become a reflex. If I come up with anything I need to look up, my fingers type Google without thinking what I am doing.

    b) iGoogle has become my default action. As soon as I am in front of my laptop, I go to iGoogle. This was how I made one of my violations on Friday. I just went to iGoogle without thinking and for no reason at all.

    c) Google is too big to fit in my conventional memory. My second violation was when I just forgot that Blogspot is Google. I should have used that browser plug-in. But then I’m depending on one algorithm to avoid others :o )

    d) Gmail is also my inventory of contacts, links and notes and I have no other alternatives. My third violation was when I had to open Gmail for a link to a form that I had to submit by today. It is eye opening to see how much my life depends on this one company.

    e) I noticed that the fear of facing Google made me cut down on my Internet usage. I’m not looking for alternatives, I noticed, only putting things off until next week.

  18. mushon 17:50, Jan 31st, 10

    We love you Harris :)

  19. HoniehBarak 18:44, Jan 31st, 10

    I was watching ABC News and they were mentioning the kidnap story in Haiti, so immediately I had to see what they were referencing, immediately they pull up a google earth map to show where Port au Prince is…. lets just say there were a few profanities involved!

    Down to the wire and it is getting harder and harder!


  20. mushon 19:54, Jan 31st, 10

    That’s just disgusting…

  21. ElzbthMllr 21:05, Jan 31st, 10

    I haven’t been perfect the past few days but I have to say that I’ve been much better than I thought I was going to. I have to agree with the above post that using google almost has become like a reflex. I will begin to use google search even though I know I can use Yahoo or Bing just because I’m used to using google!

    I’ll write a longer post about the whole week experience tomorrow or Tuesday.

  22. Leslie 10:06, Feb 1st, 10

    @lindai – I actually downloaded the HopStop app, but have yet to test it out. I know that I don’t like using the actual website nearly as much as GoogleMaps; I don’t feel like it’s as clean looking & as simple to use.

  23. ElzbthMllr 09:37, Feb 2nd, 10

    “I’m glad I did it, partly because it was well worth it, but chiefly because I shall never have to do it again.” -Mark Twain

    I admit it; I panicked when I learned about this assignment. It was going to ruin my life! I read the list of Google-related tools that I use on an hourly and daily basis and realized this was going to be the longest week of my life. My friends/family who heard about the assignment declared it suicide, and wondered what kind of “sadist” would orchestrate such a difficult task. The first 24 hours were probably the hardest. Within five minutes of declaring myself Google-less I nearly used the Google Maps application on my iPhone to see where the restaurant I was going to for dinner was located! The next day at work one of my Board of Directors wanted me to edit an interview he’d done, a copy of which was only available in my gmail inbox (I re-typed the entire three pages rather than jeopardize the assignment – luckily I type fast). I needed my Delta SkyMiles number to book a vacation and knew it was in my e-mail somewhere! But I quickly adapted. Friends started e-mailing me at work instead of through Gmail. I switched my default search engine to bing (which by the way I don’t think is any better than Google), I moved any iPhone related Google applications including Google maps to the third and final “page” on my home screen. I definitely used other media that weren’t Google related a lot more – picking up my phone to use it as an actual phone, I sent probably twice as many texts as normal and I posted Twitter updates much more regularly. I even started checking my regular mailbox more regularly. I didn’t blog for work for an entire week – something I’m sure my boss was less than thrilled about. It probably made me value face-to-face connections with co-workers and friends more than normal.

    But the whole week I kept wondering, what is the point of this? If I can use a search engine that works pretty much just as well as Google, is there a difference? What is the lesson to be gained in depriving me of the right to click on a youtube link? Is it just the ubiquity of Google? I never really thought of how much aggregate information is held within just Google. Or is it more about how we access, store, and make available our information to the public. Also, I found myself wondering how does it relate to the larger issues of privacy discussed in this week’s readings? It made me think about the relationship between civil liberties and the internet in the context of the 21st century.

    More than anything, the whole experiment taught me how much I am a creature of habit and how much I’ve been conditioned not to think about the issues of privacy and access, and that this was the opportunity to do so. So many times I automatically went to refresh my e-mail on my iPhone only to remember that I had taken it off my phone for a reason. I had to find alternative ways of getting information for work, not necessarily relying on the default (e.g. easiest) tactics. And the more I read this week’s readings, the more frustrated I became at how much a corporation has seemingly controlled my life. I hope in class we talk about the “so-what” factor of this. Presumably I’ll go back to being a Google person, (how can you not), but I’d be curious to discuss what real-world use this experiment has for us.

    So, in short, yes, I can go a week without using anything Google related (mostly) and survive relatively unscathed. I wasn’t perfect, but I think I lived up to the spirit of the challenge. I just hope the next assignment isn’t to go a week without using any Apple products. That, I could not survive.

  24. mushon 09:14, Feb 3rd, 10


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