Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Big Brother is Watching

I'm sure I've written a million words using Word for Mac.  Which, for anybody who writes a lot, isn't really saying that much.  Not really.

A million?  Really?
Okay.  Let's just say a hundred thousand so we don't lose the forest for the trees.

The point is, as a guy who spent his entire professional life using Word on a PC I have always hated Word for Mac.  Just so we're clear, I love my Mac (which I switched to in 2006 when I closed my public relations agency and have never looked back) but hate the Word program for it.  I just never understood why Word for Mac wasn't exactly like Word.  Just for Macs.

Anyway, at some point I switched over to Google Docs and spent some time using that as my default word processing program.  But I never really warmed to that either, so if I had to write a letter right now I'd prolly fire up Word for Mac and just deal with it.

All of which brings me to an article I just read about a Google app called Draftback.   Which, if you want to totally freak yourself the fuck out, you can download here.  Before you do, however, you can read about it at FiveThirtyEight, the blog that Adam Silver started, although that's not his name.  Might be Nate.  Regardless, click here.

Your eyes may glaze over, but don't let them do so until after you've watched the embedded videos.  Video is the wrong word, but be sure to click play on anything that has a play button.

The idea of Draftback is that you can watch, either in real time -- which would be deadly, I'm guessing -- or in a speeded-up version, the process by which you type (or have typed) any Google doc.  All of which is interesting, and potentially educational (although my jury is out on that one).  But the real trip of the thing is that Google Docs has remembered every keystroke of every document I've ever written using that program on this computer.

And that, friends, freaks me out.

I'm not Pollyanna when it comes to the trade-off we make between privacy and convenience, but this is just further proof that we really have no idea how deep that trade-off goes.  I wish I could find it, but I just read an interesting article about a guy who, troubled enough by all this to take meaningful action, now does all his personal computing using Linux.

Ha.  As if you could possibly do that.
I'm not saying I can.  I'm saying he did.

Still, taken in toto, it's almost enough to make me stop looking at pornography on the web.

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