De-Googling my life

A couple of days ago I decided to start owning my data by self-hosting a lot of the stuff I use. This is something I had tried to do before, but I just didn’t have the steam or will to go the long haul at the time.

This primary urge has since grown to become a desire to get out of “the system” as much as I can. I shut down my primary Instagram and started moving away from WhatsApp. Facebook itself is going to take me a while considering that my account is linked to several client projects that are still running, but I will surely get there.

It is in doing so that I realised I needed to de-Google myself. I don’t believe corporations can be inherently “good” or “evil.” However, I believe it is important to consider the motivations behind companies’ business models, and better understand how they track you, use your data, etc.

And Google, as a company has their primary business model and incentives in gathering as many data points they can about their users and further us that information. They use it in two ways; safeguarding it for personalisation purposes and also to present ads that you’re likely to click on. 

I love the personalisation aspect but ultimately Google is an ad company; their other ventures exist primarily to funnel money into their ad business, to ensure more people are using the web (thus funnelling money into their ad business), or to ensure they’re not shut out from emerging technologies (and thus can further funnel money into their ad business).

First, a disclaimer: I don’t believe Google is evil (if you know me at all, you know I love the company and had dreamt of working there for a long time), and generally I believe they do an incredible job of protecting your data from others. They have made some excellent products, significantly invested in open source technologies, and done a lot of what I would consider being good in the world of technology.

However, the entire model of the company seems to be based on targeted advertisement, so relying on them for everything seems shortsighted. The emergence of mass data collection and extreme ad targeting can be attributed—at least in part—to Google’s online dominance. So, I’m attempting to de-Google my life a little bit.

For some services, I know and accept the risks versus the utility they bring me. For others, I have decided I would like to give up less of my data to an all-important account that runs my digital life and support more independent companies whose products’ interests are aligned with mine.

I will keep these lists up-to-date with my progress and links to stand-alone blog posts about each step as I write them:

Done ✔️

Most of these were easier than expected. Some weren’t actually products I use. Expect blog posts for each one.

  • Chrome → Safari Browser (and others)
  • Google Passwords → Safari and LastPass
  • Gmail → Migadu and Spike
  • Google Podcasts → Pocket Casts
  • Google Search →

In-Progress ▶️

Since adopting Migadu for my email, I’m working on migrating my calendar and contacts over. There is no easy way to handle this on Migadu, but I think it’s a good opportunity to start fresh. One anticipated difficulty will be shared Google calendars that we use. I’ll write up the experiences once they’re done!

  • Google Calendar → Migadu
  • Google Contacts → Fastmail

To-Do 🗒️

I definitely want to migrate away from these, but am struggling to find or decide on good replacements. I’ll write posts as I find replacements that work well for me.

  • Google Drive
  • Google Keep
  • Google News
  • Google Tasks

Not Planning On It (Soon) ❌️

Some of these I don’t really plan to replace any time soon, while others I would like to but don’t see good alternatives. I’ll try to get into each one and my thinking in a separate blog post.

  • Android
  • Pixel
  • Google Duo
  • Google Fit
  • Google Home
  • Google Maps
  • Google Pay
  • Google Photos
  • Google Play
  • Google Translate
  • Stadia
  • YouTube

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