Mushon Zer-Aviv is a fairly small man with a penchant for making rather large, ominous statements. Three weeks into his New Media Research Studio class, I’d decided not to take his warnings about the difficulty of the course seriously. He’d say that our final project “will be shocking to some” and I’d smugly think, “probably just that moron girl across the room who keeps asking what an RSS feed is.” I figured that his cautions, accompanied always by a mischievous grin, were merely a means of clearing the weaklings out of our over-crowded Silver classroom.
I may have been wrong.
Ten minutes ago, I began a Mushon-mandated Week Without Google. The admittedly unexpected project demands that the class steer clear of not only Google search, but every single Google-operated site and service there is. That means no Google Blogger, no Google Maps, no Google Calendar and, perhaps most horrifyingly, I’ll have to find another way to shamelessly waste time because YouTube’s not an option.
I initially dismissed the idea that I could possibly live without my Gmail, blog and various Google Sites as an insane suggestion akin to recommending that I spend a week drinking my own urine. But the immediate response the project provoked in me– a brewing mental diatribe about Google’s many essential merits–was enough to cause a few quickly stifled pangs of nervousness about my level of dependence on the company’s army of helpful applications.
So here I am, ten minutes in and just a little bit terrified. I’ve switched all my email to our glitch-prone NYU server and my Blogger bookmark is at the very end of the bookmark bar, not even visible unless I expand the Firefox screen to its full, inconvenient capacity. Even the tiny, telling “G” that used to sit next to my search box has been switched to an aggressive Yahoo “Y!”
I’ll be checking in on NYU Local throughout the week, reporting on the as yet unknown difficulties of life without a single home for my color coded calendars, aggregated blog posts and emails that file themselves. “Have we become too dependent on Google?” asked CMS Watch analyst Kas Thomas. Well, I’ll soon see.