By SUE VORENBERG
Scripps Howard News Service
November 14, 2005
Innocently hidden under its convenient, free assortment of products lurks the company's real intent - to take over the world.
Just take a gander at Google Earth.
The software, which you can download from the company's Web site, literally puts the whole Earth under the click of your mouse.
It is a collection of satellite images that you can scroll through, or into, down to the detail of your very own rooftop. The thing will even tell you what restaurants are nearby if you're hungry, where the nearest coffeehouses are for your intravenous caffeine hookup and what roads you have to take to get there.
You can also tour the Grand Canyon, Rome or the great city of Boston - where I was spawned - all in three-dimensional space, using your mouse to cruise through various buildings or geologic features.
It's only a matter of time before the company captures a digital image of my cat - who clearly is already convinced she rules the world - so that Google can use it somehow to blackmail her to do its bidding.
The fact that Google has mapped Earth like this can only mean one thing - the revolution will soon follow. Just think what it can do by making the world easily searchable.
Soon, it might be able to tell where all the spiders are living in my back yard. After that it could control them, leading them in a revolt to cover my entire house with spider silk.
Oh, wait, my shoddy housekeeping has already let that happen.
Still, there's no end to the possibilities of global mapping.
Google Earth could, um, give everybody really bad directions on purpose so that the whole world gets lost.
That already happens to me every time I get in my car.
My co-worker, who shall remain nameless other than to say he covers technology on The Trib's business desk - we'll call him "Mike" - says he's convinced Google is a benevolent company, a power of good gearing up to make our lives easier.
I think he's probably just in league with it, hoping to get the coveted spot of "minister of information" in the new Googletopia.
He already has made me try Google's talk service, which, while it's a simple instant messaging service, still has the best online voice chat I've experienced. The thing is crystal-clear as a phone line, but can be used in the background of online games like "World of Warcraft."
This co-worker also got me to sign up for Gmail, the company's version of e-mail, which is - like so many other Google products - free and easily searchable, yet somewhat sparse in the features it provides.
That service gives away 2 gigabytes of storage per account, and lets you save all your e-mail and search through it using keywords, rather than scrolling through endless lists.
Oh, wait, now it's 2.659 gigabytes of free storage space - according to "Mike."
Did I say it was sparse? No. I didn't mean it. Really.
I meant - er - simple.
I've also given the company control of my desktop - through its new Google Desktop software. It put a box on my lower navigation, so now I don't even have to open a browser window to search for something. I can type in "world domination" right when I boot up my computer, with no wait.
That search, by the way, led to 14 million hits. It seems I'm not the only one worrying about the topic.
It's not that I really have a problem with somebody taking over the world. It's just that I think I should be doing it, not some well-organized utopian company.
If I were in charge, well, it'd be cool - for me, at least.
The problem is I've been too busy playing videogames to get around to it. The world is so much easier to take over in videogames.
Of course, Google Earth does lack in some departments. The program does seem to be stuck with older satellite images from several years ago. It also doesn't always pinpoint your address with absolute certainty.
In my neighborhood, it still shows Dunkin Donuts as an available restaurant - and it closed several months ago, to my coffee-drinking horror.
But I'm not sure the flaws aren't intentional. Perhaps the company is just trying to lull us into a false sense of security.
Then again, perhaps I'm dissing on it to make my own plans for global domination look more feasible.
In the end, it's too darn convenient, and I'm too lazy, to try to fight the coming of Google. Maybe it'll all work out for the best.
Who knows, maybe soon Google Earth will even be able to tell me where the disks for my new copy of "The Sims 2 Night Life" have gotten off to.
I've looked under the sofa several times, to no avail.
Besides, maybe "Mike" will need an evil minion in his new minister of information position. The possibilities are endless.
Distributed to subscribers by Scripps Howard News Service.