Transparency isn't everything, but it goes a long way toward earning my trust. And Google lets me see exactly what data I'm giving it.
I'm a trusting person. Maybe it's my age — having grown up as part of a generation that was still allowed to play outside unsupervised. Or maybe it's a Southern thing. Or maybe I just see the glass half full of cold, refreshing beer.
In any case, I tend not to worry too much. And I tend to not worry too much about all the digital data I hand over every minute of every day. That's not to say I don't care. I certainly do. And there are some companies I trust more than others. Cable company? Screw 'em. I'd unplug if I could. But I don't think I'm quite ready to subject my wife and kids to that. Cell carrier? They're only after one thing. (Except for when I'm on Project Fi. Those guys rock.)
But Google? Google probably knows more about me than anyone. Probably more than I know myself. That's never been more apparent than when I scrolled through the first 100 pixels or so of the My Activity section on my Google account. Everything I've searched for. Apps I've used. Websites I opened. Destinations I've navigated to. All there, and pretty much in real time.
"It's a little creepy" is the line you usually read associated with so much data in one place.
Why? What makes what I did creepy? Do I absolve myself of any creepiness by simply not thinking about it? (That's not to say some of my searches aren't creepy, but that's another matter.)
Or look here. I'm showing 99 Android devices, which is insane. (Wouldn't surprise me if that's wrong, and it just pegged at 99.) I see every process that backs up to Google's servers.
I keep thinking back to Apple's WWDC keynote. I get the rationale behind keeping your data on your phone, and crunching it there, rather than server-side. But all I have is Apple's word that it's doing what it says it's doing. (And the moment you connect your phone to an operator or internet access point or install an app or service — do anything other than turn it on, basically — that all goes out the window anyway.)
If you don't like seeing what's in your digital trail, maybe you should think twice about where you tread in the first place.
I'm more inclined to trust the company that shows me what it's doing. That shows me which parts of my data it's using, and tell me how it's using it, how I can control whether I want to share it in the first place. (Of course that extends to trusting that I'm actually being shown everything. But, dammit, either you're willing to go outside and risk crossing the street, or you cower at home under the covers.)
Don't just say "trust me" over and over. Give me reason to trust you.
Google uses a lot of my data. Hell, Google uses all of my data. To serve me. To serve itself. And, collectively, to serve us all. But what's more is that it shows me (OK, I trust that it's showing me) every little thing I'm doing. It's all right here. It's easy to read, easy to follow. It's transparent as hell. And a little creepy, yes. But that last part's my fault.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.