Can we survive without Google?


I have principled, moral, objections to Google (Alaphabet Inc.), due to their origins in the military, industrial intelligence complex and their conscious suppression of left wing views and analysis in addition to the fact that they are a hierarchical, capitalist corporation.

I’ve been using the Internet for long enough to remember a time before Google, initially DEC’s was the best there was. When Google launched I did switch to using it as it was better but due to privacy concerns I used Scroogle for many years, then DuckDuckGo came along and almost all the time this is good enough, I only find myself adding a !g to searches every few weeks — you can survive without using Google for internet searches.

There are other alternatives to the “killer features” provided by Google, Nextcloud and ownCloud can be used in place of Google Docs, SoGo is a fine web based email client, all of these things provide CalDAV services which can be used as alternatives to Google for contact and calendar backends for Android phones. You also don’t need to install GApps on Android phones, you can run LineageOS and use the F-Droid app store, Piwik is a fine alternative to GA.

Is anyone else managing to get by without handing over huge amounts of their data to Google in exchange for their services? And what alternatives are you using?

CoTech Newsletter: February 2018

In addition to the stuff Chris already mentioned. I have been loving Sandstorm recently which includes a bunch of good apps that the user can spin up and down as needed. It’s a drop in replacement for the Google Apps stuff. In Autonomic, we do 90% of our admin work using various Sandstorm apps. It’s all sandboxed and designed with security in mind. There’s even a hosted option for people who are not up for running their own servers.

I would also recommend LineageOS and F-Droid without GApps. You can’t install a bunch of crap so it makes you much more productive. You can now get Signal and WhatsApp as separate APKs and Signal even securely self updates.

For email, I recommend Posteo, ProtonMail, RiseUp (make sure you donate) or of course Web Architects :wink: though would be great if you offered mailbox encryption :sunglasses:

At this point I don’t use any Google services explicitly. I also use uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger to prevent tracking across the web. I also use Tor Browser to browser with some degree of anonymity.

People really need to break the cycle on this Google stuff. It’s a fun process :blush: and I think you ultimately have a much less frustrating and less anxiety inducing experience.


I’m using scuttlebutt for p2p encrypted communication and open social
It’s got a simple meeting booker and will probably soon have a simple
loomio poll.


I’d be interested in Scuttlebutt, I think a lot of people are waiting for a good p2p encrypted communication even if not “open social networking” as we know it :slight_smile:
Perhaps a a short verbal introduction to it could be at CoTech tomorrow? if only a tiny impromptu thing squeezed into the busy agenda?


We are using mattermost for our internal comms, it’s pretty great


“Creative” carbon accounting is something that Google appears to pursue in the same manner as the large tech corporations approach tax:

Google’s actual carbon footprint is growing exponentially. Yet environmental certifications, such as that produced by Greenpeace, are being used to sanitize and legitimize this growth.
Google, HuffPo, Greenpeace & the liberal progressive ‘Resistance’ are lying to you By Nafeez Ahmed


Thanks Chris I’ll follow up those links about so-called carbon footprints, and I’d be pleased to hear more from people’s ‘user experience’ of Scuttlebutt, Mattermost, etc.


I mean it’s really very easy to not use any Google services compared to a few years ago. It’s a keyboard to chair problem at this point.

There’s even a co-op that runs a Mastodon instance which can join. Mastodon is like a federated free software Twitter/Facebook alternative.

The messengers I recommend are Signal and Ricochet.

It’s just about wether people are willing to move beyond the current uncritical mind frame. I think people are interested in general but unless there are direct consequences in their lives, then the majority of people are too comfortable in their complicity with negative technologies. It’s just too convenient to do nothing.


We use Google’s services extensively at Outlandish (gmail, app suite, etc.). Personally I don’t see us moving away from them internally. I suppose you could call this a matter of convenience, but that word hides away the real implication of transitioning, which is that it requires work, and work costs money. I would cost the work in the region of £2k-£3k, and without total reassurance that the alternatives do “just work”, I would be highly sceptical of moving. There is also the question of ongoing support and maintenance of these technologies, which are business-critical considerations.

Having said all that, if CoTech were to adopt one of the alternatives then of course that would be great, albeit somewhat inconvenient for Outlandish. But we aren’t here for convenience. :slight_smile: It looks like there is general agreement that we should be proactive and not use Google services for inter-co-op interactions, and I believe the WG at Wortley Hall has already put the wheels in motion for this… something something Nextcloud?


Thanks for that @sdgluck, of course co-ops should be free to make autonomous decisions regarding what services they use and I fear that your estimate is an underestimate…

I’m very happy that people are willing to give Nextcloud a try.

But I reserve the right to continue to nudge people and point out that Google is not the solution ;-).

the world’s largest media owner is Google… [and it] was founded and evolved under the wing of the US intelligence community.


It may have just escaped folks’ notice, or mentions of it in this thread might have escaped my own notice, but:

has a lot of resources, including lots of code for services one can self-host, and which can replace the commonly-used ad-driven resources.



Who is your provider for this?


I have used gnusocial in the past. I seem to recall mastodon is based on this. Could this be used as a internal communications tool as well? Or would you say Mattermost is a better tool for the job?


heads up that Protozoa (my coop) just got funded to port Loomio into
Scuttlebutt (the p2p social database project). This will mean we’ll have
meeting booking like doodle, proposals, dot voting, all working with
existing social and private messaging.

I’d say the main selling point is an answer to “but where can we host it
that’s values aligned?” (the answer is we all host it, and you don’t need
to run sysadmin!)


Loomio on Scuttlebot sounds great, have you considered doing it in a way that would make running Loomio on Holo another possibility?


the datastructure will be clear for others to follow.
I’m not a holo dev and don’t have the funding to develop something
universal sorry.


we host it ourselves,
We’re testing it out with a view to offering it to clients, and have got
on really well with it,
if you’re interested i expect that we could set one up for you


Thanks! I think we will, it is the kind of thing we would want to offer our members! But first we have to sort more of our infrastructure!