Friday, May 27, 2011

The Future of Commerce Starts Today

by J.S. Holland

"The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The more Google assures us that their motto is "Don't Be Evil", the more obvious it is that is exactly what they have become. Three months ago, Google agreed to settle FTC charges that it "used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises to consumers" when it launched the Orwellian disaster known as Google Buzz. And they're still pissing off authors and publishers around the world with their unprecedented Google Books project whose mission was to scan and place online every book in existence (including mine) without the permission of any of the rightful owners.

And we aren't just talking about wild-eyed conspiracy crackpots or tinfoil-hat loonies here. Ursula K. LeGuin resigned from the Authors Guild over their kowtowing to Google. The American Society of Journals and Authors has warned that we must "Stop the Google-ization of copyright law" before it's too late.

Now comes the latest volley in Google's technocratic mission to digitally zombify everything in sight: the Google Wallet, in which Google invites you to let them handle your money for you. (Oh, sure, right, I trust Google implicitly, don't you?) It's been in the work since at least 2005, and now, like a rogue comet, it's finally here, heralded on their website ("The future of commerce starts today!") in rather pompous and apocalyptic terms:

In the past few thousand years, the way we pay has changed just three times — from coins, to paper money, to plastic cards.

Now we’re on the brink of the next big shift.

And what might that be? "Google Wallet is an Android app that makes your phone your wallet. It stores virtual versions of your existing plastic cards on your phone. Simply tap your phone to pay and redeem offers using near field communication, or NFC." Hmmmmm. "Tap" your phone? Oh yes, they're assuming you have a smartphone. Of course.

"Eventually your loyalty cards, gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets, even your keys will be seamlessly synced to your Google Wallet." Uh.... no, no they won't. Because I won't be having a Google Wallet, nor will I be having a smartphone.

In fact, within the next two years I plan to phase out even owning a cellphone of any kind at all.

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