YOU COULD KEEP rudimentary services running online with Google providing your word processor (Writely), spreadsheet, email, and calendar. Alll you need is an inexpensive PC equipped with Firefox and a decent broadband connection. That describes the set-up of many casual internet users and it subtly redefines "computer literacy". This summer, I may redesignate my primary laptop as my GooMooPad machine and run just Google, Moodle and blog collections on it. But there's an issue with that kind of set-up. It's an issue of trust.
I do not believe that my data is safe with Google. Sure, Google backs up all its data and I shouldn't lose anything but we have an American Federal Government that does not respect data privacy and Google complies with national laws. This tendency is manifested in Ireland by a Minister for Justice who rightfully claims his place as one of Europe's most prolific serial leakers. Anything passing through my browser address line ends up in a data trawl mandated by the Irish government. I'm not comfortable with that since there is no recourse by a private citizen when an Irish government agency compromises private email or internet browsing patterns of its citizens. If you buy your music from AllOfMP3.com, this fact should concern you--law enforcement officers don't use electronic data just to catch terrorists, you know.
But if you look around the early adopters and the soccer moms, most people are happy with the notion of Google keeping their data in a remote storage facility. They don't mind when Google blacklists its own mail servers. Step-by-step, Google is becoming the cache preference of data-driven nations around the world. The institutional investors who read the premium research reports know this already and reflect the results on Wall Street. As Chris Gulker notes, "Once people are happy with the notion of Google keeping their data from cradle to grave, I think we have a whole new ballgame. Maybe Google stock isn't grossly overvalued."