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This article was published on February 2, 2009

Imagine there’s no Google (Part 1)

Imagine there’s no Google (Part 1)
David Petherick
Story by

David Petherick

Scotsman David Petherick is a director & co-founder of several companies, and provides social media strategy & visibility services. Scotsman David Petherick is a director & co-founder of several companies, and provides social media strategy & visibility services. David became known as ‘The Digital Biographer’ after a 2007 BBC radio interview, speaks Russian, wears the Kilt, and is a co-author for the books 'Age of Conversation 2.0, & 3.0'.

…I wonder if you can? To quote John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, you may call me a dreamer, but when Google was broken for a while on Saturday, it set me thinking…

What if there was no Google – right now? Goog, gone! What would that mean for the way that I work online? So I’m writing this article in a theoretical situation, where suddenly, there’s no Google. (My colleague Zee will write a companion article to this later in the week, outlining the alternatives to these services.)

Sorry - There is no Google.

No Google Mail

Although I use a number of email addresses, they pass through one anti-spam and anti-virus service, and then go to Google Mail (also known as Gmail). Where there was 1483MB of my stuff stored. Also gone – Address Book, Chat facility, labelled conversations. And now I look at the Optional Google Labs tools I have added into Gmail…

No Google Calendar

So I can’t get reminders by SMS and email, or share and edit colleagues calendars. Weather forecast was quite handy there too, along with all of my twitter tweets, added as 1-minute events retrospectively.

No Google Docs

So all the documents I was sharing and placing online, to avoid endless ‘did you see / approve / change / update the latest version’ questions.

No Google Photos

No easy sharing of photos and albums. And no Blogger pictures appearing there. So no Blogger, of course. It’s not my main blog, but it’s a useful pointer to my online presence, and it does bring traffic to other of my resources.

No Google Reader

All my RSS feeds available on my mobile phone or any web browser – all gone. Good job I backed up the OPML file. But pity that was last month. No more shared articles for, or from my online friends – which also means…

No Google Friend Connect

So fewer connections and another widget to discard from my blog. And thinking of my blog…

No Feedburner

So my Blog RSS and Email subscribers now get nothing in their RSS reader, or email inbox every day. I don’t use the AdSense option, but now there’s something…

No Google Adsense

I don’t use the service, but I do have an account, and manage a few for some customers. They’ll have to think of a new way to advertise – and new places to advertise. Speaking of which, some of them use…

No Google Base

So those easily accessible databases of products and features are gone too. But some of the knowledge was place into, oh dear…

No Google Knol

So those expert articles which attracted a little Adsense Revenue and a great deal of qualified traffic are no more. As are the collaborative communities which helped to create the documents.

No Google Alerts

No emails when my name is mentioned, or when a customer is mentioned along with a specific set of phrases. And the data specifically from Blogs, Web, Groups, Video, oh, and from the News services…

No Google News

No easy summary of what’s breaking in the news internationally or locally. I’ll miss that in my oh. No iGoogle Page or Widgets.

No Google Local Business Center

So my targeted ads and money off vouchers for those searching in the Edinburgh are all gone. That really worked well for that coffee shop that was starting to do deliveries.

No Orkut

Well, my Portuguese was never that great anyway, so no big problem there. Nobody ever wanted to talk there in English…

No Google Talk

I’ll miss the way I could update Friendfeed and get updates about my friends being online in real time, or having the ability to have a real-time chat to clarify documents sent by email with the email open in Gmail in front of me. I’d not used it much for voice calls, apart from when looking at web traffic stats… oh. Stats.

No Google Analytics

Who’s been visiting, which ad campaigns are converting, what actual search terms are pulling to pages… all gone. The split test optimiser facility was really a great advance. I’ll feel rather lost… oh gosh…

No Google Maps

I can’t work out if I can walk from the station, or see what the roads are like. And there are my own special maps and markers and photos I’d added into Google Earth too. All gone.

No Google Webmaster Tools

So no more being able to ensure the sites are properly structured and visible to the search engine that interrogates them most.

No Google Checkout

I’ll just have to let my card details sit to a whole host of online databases now. I’ll sure miss the ability to see all my past transactions in one place. One less way t buy securely means a few fewer customers on my commerce sites.

No Blog Search

I enjoyed being able to find stuff that interested me (and to have my stuff found). It was here I first found about that new browser… oh

No Google Chrome

The only browser that made me want to use my dusty and unloved PC online – such a natty interface and a fast, natural way to treat browsing history. It was so simple and clean…

No Google Directory

That topic-based taxonomy was always useful, particularly for specialist and niche topics. I found it useful to check some areas for growth when looking at company financials… oh.

No Google Finance

That neat, at-a-glance sector summary, and the ability to quickly see what’s happening with the value of my share portfolios – gone.

No Google Scholar

I really liked being able to find, evaluate, cite and compare research without subscribing to a whole raft of databases with different search methodologies. Some of the intelligence I could share… oh.

No Google Sites

I will miss the ability to share content in quick, secure, easy-to-create little web sites only with specific people. Even the most luddite of customers could add information, and it got a few of them on board with the notion that collaborating to create material online was actually more productive than sending Word documents to 300 inboxes. Never told them it was actually a wiki.

No Google Code

Oh, it’s a shame all those APIs and open Source projects are not available now. Going to have to look harder for them… but there are lot of forums and groups that can be useful… oh dear…

No Google Groups

The School PTA near-paperless era is over – back to bad photocopies in the schoolbags again – and having to redraft minutes twenty times to please everyone present. And a shame about losing easy access to those 700 million usenet postings covering more than 20 years.

No Google Translate

I missed the ability to quickly check the gist of what those Portuguese and Dutch friends were wittering on about. And sharing information with foreign colleagues by offering them a quick translation first… especially the arabic.

No Google Mobile

I found it great to be able to just ‘google it’ from my mobile phone – and checking my GMail with that speedy little application on my Nokia will be a thing of the past now. Good job I don’t have an Android Phone. And it was fun sometimes to watch videos… oh.

No YouTube

No more categorising and tagging ‘funny cats’ videos for my 8-year-old to watch, and I’ll have to dig around to find out where some of my favourites are – I’ll miss subscribing and getting updates automatically. Some of my video-producing friends are going to be upset. And I suppose that means…

No Google Video

I will miss the ability to check the most blogged, or to look at the movers and shakers. The timeline-based view of what was most viewed or shared on specific dates really was a useful social document. I’ll search on

No Google Search

Oh. Sort of lost without that. And no image search either.

“Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world” – John Lennon, Imagine

I’m imagining that I’d really miss a lot of the really quite wonderful things Google offers me – and I realise that I don’t pay Google for any of this. Can you imagine that?

IMPORTANT: Please be sure to read the companion article tomorrow ‘Imagine There’s no Google (Part 2 )’ By Zee Kane here later in the week.

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