24 HOURS WITHOUT GOOGLE

Just Let Me Check One Last Thing . . .

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By Rob Dubbin
Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Certainly if you had all the world's information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you'd be better off."

-- Sergey Brin, co-founder, Google

* * *

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."

-- H.P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"

I wish Google didn't make me think of tentacles. It never did before I tried avoiding it for 24 hours -- a doomed exercise that began as a challenge and morphed into a horror show.

This was supposed to be a birthday present to the Internet's reigning brand -- admittedly, an odd sort of gift for a company that so thrives on participation. Ten years ago today, on Sept. 7, 1998, Google was officially incorporated, beginning its historical march to ubiquity from a Silicon Valley garage. What better way to celebrate Google's dominance -- search, e-mail, chat, maps, news, calendars, Mars-- than to abstain from its services entirely?

As it turns out, there probably were less stressful ways. If the stakes had been higher, say I'd crossed an ancient crone who cursed me such that the sight of Google's logo caused my instant demise, I would be dead. Even that now seems humane by comparison -- each time I fled Google's grasp over the course of this assignment, the blue "G" found a way to surprise me around corners, grinning like some horrible fanged maw.

Fri., Aug. 29, 5:43 p.m. Last preparations in Firefox, my preferred browser, which includes a host of Google default settings. New homepage? Check. Search box toggled to Yahoo? Check.


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