Imagine there’s No Google.

Imagine there’s No Google.

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Imagine there’s no Google (Part 1)

david Written on February 2, 2009 – 11:15 am
David Petherick, Contributing Editor, United Kingdom

…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.

I hope you like that post!

Imagine theres no Google (Part 1)The Next Web Blog covers start-up news from all over the world (not just the Valley), exciting new technologies and inspiring entrepreneurs. If you’re new here, you may want to read our ‚About‚ page and subscribe to our RSS feed.

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About the author: 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 interview, speaks Russian, wears the Kilt, and is a co-author for the book ‚Age of Conversation 2.0‚.

30 comments/trackbacks to “Imagine there’s no Google (Part 1)”

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  1. By Jeremy Dent on Feb 2, 2009Reply –>

    Frigh-ten-ing. And a great way to highlight all those Google tools we take for granted, David.

    Look forward to Zee’s contribution tomorrow.


    By David Petherick on February 2nd, 2009:

    Thanks Jeremy.

    Yes, I think Zee has the tough job to do tomorrow. I just had to make a list from Google’s home page.


  2. By Gareth Rodger on Feb 2, 2009Reply –>

    Dust off that old HOSTS file and kill the Google domains. Try it for real.


  3. By sandikli on Feb 2, 2009Reply –>

    Yes, all services, Google yesterday for 55 minutes did not work.


  4. By Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten on Feb 2, 2009Reply –>

    great list! Google is everywhere!


  5. By Erik Visser on Feb 2, 2009Reply –>

    It really is a great list, but wouldn’t these services be here if google didn’t excist?
    I think they would. Because it’s not google who invents them. Google just knows how to listen to the needs of the market.
    And if google wasn’t there they would have gained momentum and took that empty space full speed.
    Looking forward to part 2, because there are loads of good alternatives.


    By David Petherick on February 2nd, 2009:

    I agree Google has not invented many of these services, but it has innovated a great deal – AdWords being the prime example.

    It has pulled together lots of services into a cohesive package, and because it is so big in search, it is perfectly placed to listen.

    I look forward to Zee’s piece too.


  6. By ely on Feb 2, 2009Reply –>

    This is boring. When i started reading this article i thought we are gonna have some interesting insight into the world without google or beyond google. But this turned out to be a mediocre page highlighting what google offers, in that sense it is good.


    By David Petherick on February 2nd, 2009:

    Ely, that’s the article Zee is creating tomorrow – ‘the world without or beyond Google’. This piece was to set the stage for that, and to explain what the world would be missing if it were not there.

    Sorry if I bored you. 😦


    By ely on February 2nd, 2009:

    well David i am eagerly waiting for that one to come 🙂

    Since most of articles are flooded with similar kind tool list so this was not much different either but i hope next one will have some interesting insight. looking forward to 🙂


  7. By Darren Moloney on Feb 2, 2009Reply –>

    Proves we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket, spread the risk and have alternatives…


    By David Petherick on February 2nd, 2009:

    I don’t know if it proves it, but even I was surprised writing this article just how many of Google’s services I’ve come to rely on.

    As Zee’s follow-up in Part 2 will show, there are, of course, alternatives.


    By Darren Moloney on February 2nd, 2009:

    I look forward to part 2 the alternatives. David, thanks for the prompt reply.


    By Petros Gavalakis on February 4th, 2009:

    So, another article on either risk spread or -automated preferrably- google data backup, would be great, I assume…
    Great part1 post anyway!


  8. By Nikki Pilkington on Feb 2, 2009Reply –>

    Great article David – it just goes to show how much we take Google for granted these days.

    Sure, these services can be found, or would spring up, some place else – but what about the history we’ve given to Google already? And what if things don’t integrate the way we would like them.

    And what if it’s not all free?

    I think THEN people will start moaning 🙂


    By David Petherick on February 2nd, 2009:

    A telling comment I heard some time ago was this: “Google never forgets”.

    The history that Goolge has accumulated on the use of its service is truly staggering – and if it were to decide to chareg for a few thinsg we’ve become dependent on – well, it already does that to some extent with Docs and Mail.

    But it still offers a hell of a lot for free. Then again, I always remember that there’s no such thing as a free lunch…


  9. By Khürt Williams on Feb 2, 2009Repl