Where's my Google PC?

Innovation, the Internet, gadgets, and more.
July 3 2006 1:13 PM

Where's My Google PC?

It's coming. It'll be great. You'll hate it.

Listen to an MP3 audio interview with Paul Boutin  here, or sign up for Slate's free daily podcast on iTunes.

(Continued from Page 1)

Now, a few caveats before you get too stoked over Microsoft's imminent demise. Having been a network-computer advocate myself, I think they're cool. But I also know the resistance a Google PC will run into.

First, there's the inexplicable human urge to own stuff and have it in your possession. No matter how snazzy Google's online services, people will want to store their files at home. My starving-artist friends use Gmail, but as soon as they land real jobs they buy brand-new Macs and start keeping their mail on their own computers. Inevitably they lose it and don't have a backup, but they still like the feeling of controlling their data. Every network computing gadget I worked on faced the same objection from would-be customers: "Those things are fine for secretaries, but I need a real computer on my desk."

Advertisement

Second, a network computer works fine if you've got a fast, flawless network connection. Most of us in the United States (not to mention worldwide) don't and won't for a long time. My premium-grade DSL is acting up this very second. Google wants to light up San Francisco with Wi-Fi, yet they couldn't get one roomful of reporters online at Google Press Day.

But the real deal-breaker is trust: Are you going to let someone else handle all your data? If you use a Google-served computing environment, everything you upload, download, or type potentially passes through Google's computers. I'll be the first to sign up, but that's my blind faith in statistics. If there's a privacy breach at Google, I figure I'll be about 10 millionth in line to get hurt. How about it: Would you trust Google to protect your e-mail, your tax documents, and your family photos?

Paul Boutin is a writer living in San Francisco.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.