Google yesterday announced the UK launch of Google Web History, an online app that records your internet surfing history and allows you to nip back to check on any site you've visited in the past.
Cruising around in Google Web History, two things immediately strike me.
Number one: it's useful and intuitive. Being able to snap straight into sites you've visited in the past is a time saver and, more importantly, an effort saver. And you can, in time, build up a web within a web that's personal to you.
But the other thing about Google Web History - number two, if you like - is how unobtrusive it is. It's classic Google. You're using a Google service, trampling your digital footprints all over its pristine white servers, and half the time you forget all about it. And in doing so, you proceed to give away reams of data about yourself.
If (like me) you use Googlemail and Googletalk, you'll know what I'm talking about.
Now, I'm not suggesting for a minute that Google has anything more sinister than a profit motive for getting our data on to its servers. And whenever I meet Google staff they make me feel grubby by their luminescent lack of evil. It's like hanging out with a really militant branch of the Salvation Army, but with better teeth.
However, there is a weird conundrum for today's vaguely privacy conscious, professional computer user. I express it thus: I love the functionality of Google products, but I have a vague sense of unease about the fact that Google knows more about me than my parents. And my bank manager.
And as a semi-professional scribe, it concerns me that anything I write using Googlemail falls under its copyright. The CEO of a reasonably famous tech manufacturer told me recently that his engineers used to exchange ideas and technical information over Gmail, until they looked closely at the T&Cs and realised that they were, in effect, handing over the patents.
And I'm of the generation that worries about such things. The youth of today willfully slap about their personal details with nary a care in the world.
It's like a friend of mine pointed out the other day: if he was to enter his teenage sons' bedroom unannounced, they'd scream the house down about 'invasion of privacy'. But both of his boys arrange their social lives almost entirely via Gmail (and Facebook). And they're more than happy to do so, leaving themselves hostages to fortune in terms of (a) what future employees will think of the information they posted in their teenage years and (b) what the future owners of Facebook and Google choose to do with that information.
Like the pensions gap, laser eye surgery and Manchester City, no-one really knows how this will turn out. But we are living in Google's world. And whether that turns out to be a dystopian nightmare of email adverts being burned on to our irises, or stylish white walls and loads of fruit for all, is in the lap of the gods. (Or Google, to give them their correct name.)
Am I bovvered? Well I'm writing this on Google Docs and contemplating posting it on Blogger, so probably not.