Thoughts on Google . . . Well, I'm starting to find Google pretty creepy. It's not just the tax avoidance, it's the arrogant attitude to it too: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/google-boss-im-very-proud-of-our-tax-avoidance-scheme-8411974.html?origin=internalSearch
. However, viable and worthy alternatives are difficult to find. The obvious choice for a similar range of services is Microsoft, but it avoids tax too (apparently about £159 million of tax per year in the UK) aside from any other objections one might have. Yahoo!, I believe, uses Microsoft's services for search, too. And I tried Duck Duck Go, but that just defaulted to Google for image searches. Ask! might be better on an ethical front (I don't know), but I've never found it satisfactory as my default search engine.
On another front, I recently got an Android media player. Nice sound quality but otherwise: Yuck! A travesty of Linux. Locked down, loads of Adware, crippled free versions of stuff, crapware (i.e. software that's crap, just in case that wasn't clear!), little open source software. In fact, there's more open source software for Windows than Android it seems.
And then there's Google's degree of monopolisation and (as economists call it) horizontal and vertical integration, i.e. how deeply and widely their tentacles reach through digital lifestyles. They'd have you use Google products on your phone, laptop, for emailing, typing documents, sharing pictures, chatting with friends online, watching videos, reading and on it goes.
Sure it's capitalism, but the models in which capitalism works well for the consumer generally involve more competition, less market domination. Google provides an excellent example of what Michel Foucault called 'soft power', i.e. the subtle use of information and 'helping' to exercise control. Or perhaps it's the ultimate money-making panopticon.
There! Got that off my chest. Rant over.