TIME technology

The Future of Civilization Is a Battle Between Google and Wikileaks

Meghan Brosnan Julian Assange appears by hologram at The Nantucket Project on Sept. 28, 2014, alongside Eugene Jarecki.

Eugene Jarecki is a New York-based writer and film-maker.

Eric Schmidt and Julian Assange's new books offer an unsettling portrait of our unpreparedness for a truly digital world

Last weekend, I participated in an event that grabbed headlines around the world, even making it into Jimmy Fallon’s opening monologue on “The Tonight Show.” Yet the real cover story has to date gone unreported.

The fourth annual Nantucket Project (co-sponsored this year by TIME) is a weekend of TED-style talks for the luminary set that hobnobs off the Massachusetts coast. I interviewed notorious Wikileaks founder Julian Assange by hologram, beamed in from his place of asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. News coverage the next day focused in one way or another on the spectacular and mischievous angle that Assange had, in effect, managed to escape his quarantine and laugh in the face of those who wish to extradite him by appearing full-bodied in Nantucket before a packed house of exhilarated conference attendees.

Beyond the spectacle, though, what got less attention was what the interview was actually about, namely the future of our civilization in an increasingly digital world. What does it mean for us as people to see the traditional town square go digital, with online banking displacing bricks and mortar, just as email did snail mail, Wikipedia did the local library, and eBay the mom and pop shop? The subject of our ever-digitizing lives is one that has been gaining currency over the past year, fueled by news stories about Google Glasses, self-driving cars, sky-rocketing rates of online addiction and, most recently, the scandal of NSA abuse. But the need to better understand the implications of our digital transformation was further underscored in the days preceding the event with the publication of two books: one by Assange and the other by Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt.

Assange’s book, When Google Met Wikileaks, is the transcript (with commentary by Assange) of a secret meeting between the two that took place on June 23, 2011, when Schmidt visited Assange in England. In his commentary, Assange explores the troubling implications of Google’s vast reach, including its relationships with international authorities, particularly in the U.S., of which the public is largely unaware. Schmidt’s book, How Google Works, is a broader, sunnier look at how technology has presumably shifted the balance of power from companies to people. It tells the story of how Google rose from a nerdy young tech startup to become a nerdy behemoth astride the globe. Read together, the two books offer an unsettling portrait both of our unpreparedness for what lies ahead and of the utopian spin with which Google (and others in the digital world) package tomorrow. While Assange’s book accuses Google of operating as a kind of “‘Don’t Be Evil’ empire,” Schmidt’s book fulfills Assange’s worst fears, presenting pseudo-irreverent business maxims in an “aw shucks” tone that seems willfully ignorant of the inevitable implications of any company coming to so sweepingly dominate our lives in unprecedented and often legally uncharted ways.

No sooner had these divergent visions been introduced to the world in print than their authors went toe-to-toe in the press, with Assange characterizing Google as the “privatized version of the NSA” and Schmidt firing back that Assange is simply “paranoid.” These simple sound bites belie the depth of each author’s worldview and even of their views of one another. Though Assange is an anti-establishment vigilante and Schmidt comes from a wildly different position as chief shopkeeper of the digital marketplace, their 2011 conversation shows a surprising level of agreement in key areas, such as the importance of information architecture and the way the digital world promotes public bargaining power. Assange of course wishes to promote these in the service of a more informed citizenry, while Schmidt seeks to empower more and better consumers.

Strangely, any such depth is absent in Schmidt’s book, which is more a sort of Pollyannish collection of “what they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School”-type maxims, gleaned at the helm of the world’s most dominant company. As with so much about Google, one is drawn to read Schmidt’s words despite oneself, though they are really just thinly veiled propaganda for his company. I felt like fact-checking some of what I read, but where would I go? Google?

So suddenly, a classic standoff has emerged across the digital town square. On one side, we see an exhausted but indefatigable vigilante, half-armed, bleeding, possibly half-crazed. On the other, the gleaming company man, armed to the teeth, with stars and stripes billowing behind him, swaggering with the confident ease of invincibility. As their crosshairs train on one another now across the digital frontier, I am reminded from Assange’s book that they were, in a sense, friends once, or at least kindred spirits in the quest to understand the road ahead.

For me, the most significant takeaway from this duel of perspectives came during my interview with Assange. I passingly referred to the Internet as a kind of Wild West, one with limited regulation and desperados vying for control. He stopped me and said I was only half right to characterize it this way. Citing his own legal difficulties and the larger ongoing NSA scandal, he argued that the Internet is in no way a lawless place when it comes to government controls. Rather, it is only lawless where the rights of citizens are concerned. Assange painted a picture of the old world — admittedly imperfect but built upon a legal system that seeks to balance human rights with human accountabilities, the privileges of citizenship with its costs. He then went on to describe the new world, where this delicate architecture is being replaced by one with highly developed structures for the enforcement of accountability but little or none to ensure the rights and freedoms of citizens.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that, in the same week that Assange and Schmidt squared off as adversaries, Tim Berners-Lee, the person credited with actually creating the world wide web (sorry, Al) returned to the role of cool-headed arbitrator, calling for a Magna Carta of the digital age. “The power to abuse the open Internet has become so tempting both for government and big companies,” Berners-Lee warned, that a kind of bill of rights for Internet users is urgently needed. Berners-Lee’s testimony offers, perhaps, a third way between the extremes represented by Assange and Schmidt, coolly reminding us that somewhere between the heedless profit-pursuit of those in power and the strident antagonism of those opposed, we are long overdue for a kind of constitutional convention, the kind of democratic gathering necessary at the dawn of any brave new world to ensure that we strike a balance between the better and lesser angels in our nature.

Eugene Jarecki is a New York-based writer and film-maker. His Peabody, Emmy and Sundance-winning works include Why We Fight, The Trials of Henry Kissinger and The House I Live In.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME career

What Makes Someone a Great Product Manager at Google?

Team at work
Compassionate Eye Foundation/Noel Hendrickson—Getty Images

Former Google engineer Edward Ho reveals the qualities necessary for success

Answer by Edward Ho, former Google engineer, on Quora.

Alright, I’ll give this a shot based on my experience working at Google with the best product managers I’ve ever seen anywhere. I am not a PM so these are based on my observation of the best at Google.

  1. Take ownership of the product and all issues related to it. This goes a long way. If you own the product, you are the first one looking for bugs, first communicating with users and first worrying about whether or not you got it right. You’re always first to volunteer to do the many varied tasks that go along with running a product/team like taking notes, sending emails to customers, filling things out, triaging bugs, or doing a quick mockup. Always start with: It’s not someone else’s responsibility, it’s your responsibility. When you do this, you’ll find #2 to be easier.
  2. Be incredibly persuasive. (I don’t really know how to do this one, but I see it done every day.) You want to get things done, but you are not in charge so to speak. None of the team reports to you and they really don’t have to do anything you say. You need to be convincing rather than commanding to get things done at Google. If you are doing #1, this is easier because everyone knows you are going to be in the trenches with everyone else if the stuff hits the fan.
  3. Be an engineer. I don’t mean that you actually need to be coding the product. I mean you should be curious about how the product is built as if you were an engineer. You should be interested in understanding how much something costs in engineering time, and why it costs so much. What algorithms are in use for that feature? Why is this page slow? Any engineer on the team will pay a lot of attention to big architecture decisions that affect the product and so should you. You should be able to explain the tradeoffs of major engineering decisions if you run into the founders and they want to know why something works the way it does. The best PMs at Google enjoy getting very technical whenever they can.
  4. Be endlessly positive. Your team is likely composed of engineers and some of us tend to be very cynical. A very positive PM can make a world of difference in the mood of the team. You may feel silly being so positive all the time, but it’s infectious and your team will feed off of it. Remember that you and your Tech Leads (lead engineers) may know of a million things to get you all down, but the rest of your team is likely not exposed to all of that. You help them do their jobs better by not wallowing in your worries because as the PM, you are the team’s window/messenger to the larger company. If you are negative, then that’s how the team will think the rest of the company perceives their work.
  5. Don’t self-promote. This should be obvious, but if you attempt to self-promote, it’s incredibly obvious and poisonous. Celebrate others on the team, you and the Tech Lead(s) are already the primary contacts for the project and you don’t need any promotion. If you are dragging around the hard work of others attempting to earn kudos for yourself, you’re doing it wrong and you won’t go far. Be inclusive. Whether it’s a blog post or a launch video for a new feature the best PMs promote their team members. Take a look at the blogs for some of the best products at Google. You’ll find the blog posts are written by a very wide array of individuals and not always the product manager because they are actively promoting others. (Please don’t confuse my usage of “promote” with actual job promotion which is a different animal. BTW the latter is highly dependent on peer reviews.)
  6. Fearless. A better writer could explain this better, but you must be blind to titles. The best PMs will speak to the founders the same way they speak to engineers or designers on their team. If you freeze up when questioned about your product decisions by execs, you won’t be successful. Give succinct answers and be fearless when defending your team’s ideas.

Hope that helps.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What makes someone a great product manager at Google?


Tinder, Women, and the Question Every Investor Should Ask

Natalia Oberti Noguera
Erica Torres Natalia Oberti Noguera

"Do you have a woman co-founder?"

In my time growing a network of women social entrepreneurs in NYC and leading Pipeline Fellowship (an angel investing bootcamp for women), I have heard of women founders bringing male employees to investor meetings in order to be taken seriously. But it hadn’t ever occurred to me that men would purposefully hide the fact that their founding team included a woman—until Tinder’s sexual harassment lawsuit broke last week.

When men approach me after a talk/keynote/panel to express interest in pitching Pipeline Fellowship’s angel investors-in-training, I ask them, “Do you have a woman co-founder?” I’m usually met with baffled looks, even though in my remarks I’m very clear that one of the criteria to apply to present at a Pipeline Fellowship Pitch Summit is for the business to be woman-led. Several men have answered along the lines of, “Actually, no, but I have a [female friend/relative] who volunteers [doing something at the C-level that sounds like a full-time job].” I usually reply, “Great! It sounds like she’s adding value and is part of the team, so, once you formalize that relationship by making her a co-founder and giving her equity, I encourage you to apply.”

Then, I spoke at Rosario Dawson’s Voto Latino Power Summit in NYC.

As I was heading into the auditorium to listen to Arianna Huffington, Rosario Dawson, and Voto Latino’s CEO Maria Teresa Kumar, I noticed a man and a woman walking toward me. The guy said, “My name’s Deyvis Rodriguez and I just wanted to let you know that I heard you speak at the pre-SXSW Latin@s in Tech event held in Austin a few months back and you asked me if I had a woman co-founder.” Deyvis went on to share that prior to our interaction, he hadn’t really thought about having or not having a woman co-founder. A few weeks after the event, a friend recommended someone who might be a good fit for his startup. That someone turned out to be the woman next to Deyvis: “Meet Leo Bojos, my co-founder at Stellar Collective.”

I was psyched. The little remix of the White House Project’s Marie Wilson’s “You can’t be what you can’t see” with the opposite of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” had worked. In that simple question—”Do you have a woman co-founder?”—men must acknowledge the lack of gender diversity on their founding teams, often for the first time.

While Justin Mateen didn’t get the #likeagirl memo, I bet there are many more Deyvis-es in our midst. Gender diversity actually adds value to a company, according to an Emory University study, which found that ventures with women co-founders were more likely to generate revenue than those with only men on the founding team.

In 2013, according to the Center for Venture Research, 23% of women-owned ventures pitched to U.S. angels, 19% of which secured capital. And only 7% of minority-owned firms pitched to U.S. angels, 13% of which received funding.

There have been many initiatives to encourage more women entrepreneurs, including seasoned angel investor Joanne Wilson’s Women Entrepreneurs Festival, Shaherose Charania’s Women 2.0 PITCH, and Natalie Madeira Cofield’s Walker’s Legacy, which was inspired by Madam C. J. Walker, the first self-made U.S. millionaire woman, who also happened to be black (disclosure: I serve on the advisory board). I launched Pipeline Fellowship to change the face of angel investing and create capital for women social entrepreneurs. Even Barbie has signed up to be an entrepreneur.

What if, in addition to getting more women to consider entrepreneurship, venture capitalists joined me in asking men pitching to them, “Do you have a woman co-founder?” (VCs, by the way, are not off the hook. Entrepreneurs, I urge you to ask them if they have a woman partner, which isn’t the same as office manager.)

And as an LGBTQ Latina who knows that 93% of businesses pitching to U.S. angels in 2013 were led by white people, I ask different versions of the question, such as “Do you have a person of color co-founder?”

Wondering where to start? Here’s a helpful resource.


Oberti Noguera is Founder and CEO of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing bootcamp for women. She holds a BA in Comparative Literature & Economics from Yale and was named to Latina.com‘s “25 Latinas Who Shine in Tech” and Business Insider‘s 2013 list of “The 30 Most Important Women in Tech under 30.”

TIME technology

BlackBerry May Simply Ditch Those Handsets That Nobody Wants

A Blackberry Q10 handset is seen on display as people use their devices at the Fairfax Holdings annual general meeting for shareholders in Toronto
© Mark Blinch—Reuters Blackberry may kill off its handset business if it doesn't start making more money.

The ailing tech giant's chief executive claims the company may exit the handset market if it remains unprofitable and says it may focus on providing businesses and governments with secure communication networks

If BlackBerry doesn’t start making more money on its handset business, the company will consider exiting the market.

In an interview with Reuters, the company’s chief executive officer said that a decision will be made soon.

“If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business,” said John Shen, who took over as CEO of the struggling company late last year.

The company reported a quarterly net loss of $423 million and a 64% drop on revenues in March.

Chen said that the company is increasingly focusing on providing highly secure communications to regulated industries and financial and legal services, as the revelations about the scope of surveillance by the U.S. government has made businesses and governments focus more on security.

“We are going to be more focused on secure communications, secure messaging,” the CEO said.

“We are building an engineering team on the service side that is focused on security. We are building an engineering team on the device side that is focused on security. We will do some partnerships and we will probably, potentially do an M&A on security.”


TIME Internet

So Far, Online Gambling Revenues Have Been Pathetic

Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

State budget makers and gaming interests have drastically, laughably overestimated the amount of money that would be generated with the advent of legalized online gambling, especially in New Jersey.

In March 2013, New Jersey officials forecast that online gambling would yield somewhere in the neighborhood of $180 million in tax revenues for the state during the first fiscal year Internet gaming was legal. But the estimates have been falling ever since—to $160 million when Christ Christie signed the state budget last summer, and down to just $34 million earlier this year, after a few months of legalized online gambling had passed. More recently, the state treasurer said that no more estimates on online gambling revenues would be made public, which seems wise considering how previous predictions have fared.

From the end of November, when legalized online gambling in New Jersey, through February 2014, a mere $4.2 million in tax revenues has been collected by the state, leading one legislative budget officer to now project an estimate of $12 million in revenues for the year, the Associated Press reported. The revised estimate for next year’s revenues was listed at $48 million. At that pace, it would take four or five years for the state to take in revenues equal to the amount it was supposed to collect in tax revenues during the first year of legal online gambling.

It’s not just state officials who seem mystified by the lackluster returns. Caesars Entertainment recently informed the New Jersey Star-Ledger that its online gaming operation was experiencing decent success in a few parts of the state—Jersey City, Toms River, Cherry Hill—but that it couldn’t explain why interest was strong in some areas and almost nonexistent in others.

New Jersey isn’t the only state that seems to have drastically overestimated online gambling’s potential as a budgetary savior. When Delaware’s gambling sites launched, there were often only a couple dozen players online at any moment, and almost immediately it became apparent that revenues wouldn’t come anywhere near to the first-year estimates. Toward the end of March, Morgan Stanley issued a note regarding longer term prospects for online gambling in the U.S. “We are lowering our estimates to better reflect the insights we have gained following the first few months of operations in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware,” the note stated, lowering the anticipated gross online gambling spending for 2017 from $5 billion to $3.5 billion, and for 2020 from $9.3 billion to $8 billion.

Toward the end of 2011, mind you, Morgan Stanley was estimating an online gambling market of $14 billion annually, though that was based on broader legalization.

Casino companies give plenty of reasons why online gambling hasn’t taken off in New Jersey and other states, including the continued existence of unregulated (illegal) gambling site competitors, the fact that some banks aren’t allowing their credit cards to be used for placing bets online, and basic lack of awareness among consumers. Surely, some if not all of the factors holding online gambling back can be addressed in time.

That’s assuming legalized online gambling will be around for a while. Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., who obviously has no problem with people gambling in person because he runs casinos, has been waging a war against online gambling for months, at one point penning an op-ed calling Internet gaming “a societal train wreck waiting to happen.” With the backing of Adelson, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) recently sponsored a bill that would effectively outlaw online gambling throughout the country.

A group supported by Adelson, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, has released a series of online ads warning about the risks posed to children and their families in a world where gambling is available on screens 24/7, and it’s not always possible to tell who is using an online account. As the National Journal pointed out, one of the ads shows how a kid with a smartphone can be playing Angry Birds one minute, then be addicted to blackjack the next:

“I was playing Angry Birds and then, you know, I just found it,” the teen narrates, as images of online blackjack and poker tables flash on screen. “It’s a lot cooler knowing that I’m playing a real game, not just, like, Candy Crush or Fruit Ninja.”


Every 60 Seconds, Apple Makes More Money Than You Do in a Year

WorldPay Zinc
WorldPay Zinc

But Amazon and Twitter? Not so much

Check out this interactive: It shows how much revenue and profit a handful of technology companies generate—by the second. When you land on the page, a clock starts ticking, showing how the profits at Apple, Google, Samsung and others grows comparatively. Apple brings in about $70,000 in profit every 60 seconds, Samsung follows at about $55,000, with Microsoft at $42,000, Google at 24,000 and Amazon at just $1,400. Twitter, in contrast, is still losing money.

The graphic was produced by online marketing outfit Distilled forWorldPay Zinc, a U.K.-based payment service for small business. The data is sourced from fiscal 2013.

TIME Business & Tech

The Biggest Non-Profit Mistake of All Time

Why have we allowed ourselves to be defined by what we are not?

Four years ago, I sat at my desk overlooking the Manhattan skyline from the 25th floor of 3 Times Square. I was in my mid-twenties, earning a six-figure salary at Bain & Company, which has now been rated the #1 global consulting firm by Consulting Magazine for 11 years straight. I looked down at the drafted email on my desktop, took a deep breath, and pressed send. The email notified more than 400 coworkers and friends that I was leaving what I’d previously believed was my dream job to pursue the non-profit I had founded, Pencils of Promise (PoP).

What began as a $25 deposit and a request for donations on my 25th birthday to build one school in the developing world had morphed into a 501(c)3 organization run by passionate young professionals who believed that bringing business acumen to humanitarian idealism could produce real innovation. When I left Bain in March 2010, PoP had completed two schools. Today, we have broken ground on more than 200 schools across four countries (Laos, Ghana, Guatemala and Nicaragua) that have served more than 20,000 students.

Pencils of Promise

In my new book, The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change, I share the surprising steps anyone can take to create a life of success and significance. This includes never taking no from someone who can’t say yes, fessing up to your failures, and doing the small things that make others feel big (like getting business cards for key volunteers even before you can offer salaries). But for years I’ve been troubled by something that I consider the biggest mistake in the non-profit space: that 501(c)3 companies have allowed themselves to called “non-profit.”

The word non is defined as “of little or no consequence: unimportant: worthless.” And yet it’s the first word you hear when describing charitable work. That’s because charity historically stems from religious penance for sins performed in other areas of our lives. It’s still secretly present in our language, as you’ll often hear people tell someone who works at a charity that he or she is “such a saint.”

But if we’re honest, absolutely no one works at a 501(c)3 organization because they have aspirations to be poor. No one wakes up and says, “I can’t wait to not profit today!” We’re driven by ambition to solve the world’s most intractable social issues. We want to craft a better world than the one we inherited, and we do this work not to pursue personal poverty, but to alleviate the lack of profitability in the lives of others and enhance the sense of meaning in our own. So why do we continue to use a phrase that only describes a small component of our business model? Shouldn’t we focus on the positive elements of what our efforts create instead of highlighting what they don’t?

In 2011, at the Google Zeitgeist conference, I suggested that going forward all 501(c)3 organizations start calling themselves “for-purpose” organizations rather than non-profit, committed to maximizing impact and being held to the same standards of accountability, results, and ambition as our for-profit peers. But what I’ve realized since then is that “for-purpose” is not the opposite end of the for-profit spectrum, it’s an entirely new axis altogether.

Pencils of Promise

We’re moving to a place as a society where the question of whether an entity is “for-purpose” or “non-purpose” will be a greater indicator of its potential success than its for-profit or non-profit designation. The latter two will simply define the business model it adheres to in achieving its attempted mission.

Marc Andreessen, one of the most successful venture capital investors of the last decade, recently wrote a blog post stating that the most relevant criteria for success in his tech startup investments is not a desire to acquire wealth, but a clear mission-driven commitment to solving a societal problem. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? This is the same language that a traditional non-profit would use to define itself too.

The great mistake here is that for years we’ve been using a restricted pair of phrases to describe the work that we do, and more importantly, why we do it. The rise of the for-purpose movement is upon us. I hope you are ready.

The Promise of a Pencil: How One Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change is available in bookstores now.

TIME Internet

How I Quit Google

Google privacy concerns
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images A sign is posted on the exterior of Google headquarters on Jan. 30, 2014 in Mountain View, Calif.

Spurred by privacy concerns, one writer decided to quit cold turkey — and found what she was searching for

I think it was the search for “pink glitter tiny toms” that finally prompted me to quit Google.

I had long been worried that Google knew too much about me — after all, like most people, I used Google search, Google maps, Google docs and Gmail on a daily basis. Not to mention the Google ads that tracked me across the Web.

But I didn’t quite realize how much Google knew until I dug deep into my Gmail account settings and found the section where Google had been logging my search queries dating back to when I opened my Gmail account in 2006.

There, I found that Google had been carefully cataloging the 26,000 Google searches that I apparently conduct every month, by date and by category (maps, travel, books, etc.).

My searches were a horrifying insight into what Buddhists call the “monkey mind,” leaping from place to place restlessly. Consider November 30, 2010: I started the day reading some technology news. Then, suddenly, I was searching for “Pink glitter tiny toms” for shoes I was apparently considering purchasing for my daughter. Then I was off to the thesaurus to look up a word for an article I was writing, then to OpenTable to book a restaurant reservation, and then a visit to Congress to download the text of privacy legislation. Phew.

This was more intimate than a diary. It was a window into my thoughts each day — in their messiest, rawest form — as I jumped from serious work topics to online shopping for my kids. My searches are among the most sensitive information about me. If I’m planning a trip to Berlin, all my searches are about Berlin. If I’m researching an article about facial recognition technology, all my searches are about facial recognition technology. Basically my searches are a fairly accurate prediction of my future actions.

This was something I didn’t want anybody to see — not my boss, my friends or my husband. And I even more desperately did not want my information to be fed into some future algorithm that would reveal that people who considered buying pink glitter shoes and recently visited Berlin were poor credit risks, or some such thing that will likely arise in the future world of big data.

And I couldn’t expect the company to keep all my data secret. Google has a history of abusing users’ trust. In 2010, Google launched a social networking tool called Buzz that automatically listed people as “followers” of people with whom they frequently e-mailed or chatted on Gmail. Users who clicked on a button “Sweet! Check out Buzz,” were not adequately informed that the identity of their closest Gmail contacts would be made public. Google later agreed to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission that Buzz was deceptive, and paid $8.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit about Buzz.

Google was also caught bypassing the privacy settings of the Safari browser used by millions of iPhone and other Apple users by using a special computer code to trick their browsers into allowing Google tracking. Google later paid $22.5 million fine related to that violation. And, of course, Google also violated people’s privacy when its Street View cars inadvertently collected personal information from Wi-Fi networks

And then there is the data that Google hands over to the government. Google gets legal requests from the US government for information about tens of thousands of user accounts per year — and it complies with most of them. This is due in part to the outdated privacy laws that make it easier for law enforcement to legally read people’s e-mail than to open their postal mail. Most mail can only be opened with a search warrant, but “stored” email can be obtained without a warrant.

The leading Internet companies, including Google, Apple, and Facebook, have joined a coalition that is pushing to amend the electronic communications privacy law to require search warrants for e-mail and cell phone location records. But so far their efforts to reform the law have not been successful.

And if that wasn’t enough, we have learned from the top secret documents obtained by Edward Snowden that when the National Security Agency has also been hacking into Google’s data centers.

So I decided I needed to go on a Google data diet. I started by quitting Google search.

I found a tiny search engine called DuckDuckGo that has a zero-data retention policy. It doesn’t store any of the information that is automatically transmitted by my computer — the IP address and other digital footprints. As a result, DuckDuckGo has no way to link my search queries to me. “When you access DuckDuckGo (or any Web site), your Web browser automatically sends information about your computer,” the company’s privacy policy states. “Because this information could be used to link you to your searches, we do not log (store) it at all. This is a very unusual practice, but we feel it is an important step to protect your privacy.”

As soon as I switched, I realized how dependent on Google I had become. Without Google’s suggested searches, and Google’s perfect memory of what I usually search for, each search required more work from me. For instance, DuckDuckGo doesn’t know that I live in New York City, so when I mistyped “Naturaly History Museum,” it brought up the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. For comparison, I checked Google: sure enough, it corrected my spelling and guessed I was in New York, listing the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan at the top of my results.

DuckDuckGo’s lack of knowledge about me forced me to be smarter in my searches. For instance, I noticed I had become so lazy that I had been typing URLs — such as CNN.com — into the Google search bar instead of the navigation bar, even though I knew exactly where I was going. So I began typing in the addresses into the correct spot on my Web browser.

The next thing I noticed: I had been Googling Web pages that I visit very regularly — such as my kids’ schools and my yoga studio schedule — instead of just bookmarking them. And so I began bookmarking them.

In fact, I had gotten so accustomed to letting Google do my work that I found it a bit jarring to have to finish typing an entire word without Google finishing it for me. Without Google’s suggestions, however, I found that I was less distracted to search for things I didn’t need. No more typing in the letter a and having Google suggest “amazon,” and then suddenly remembering I needed to order something from Amazon.com.

With DuckDuckGo, I usually found what I wanted, although sometimes it was strange to be confronted with just three results. I was so conditioned to seeing “millions” of results for everything on Google.

But DuckDuckGo had some black holes. I desperately missed Google Maps and couldn’t find any other online maps that I liked as much. And I missed the Google News section.

Before going to a friend’s dinner party, I searched to remind myself of the promotion he had just landed at Columbia University. There had been some recent news about it, but all my searches on his name alone, Sree Sreenivasan, and his name and Columbia, turned up nothing. Finally, I tried “Sree, Columbia and News” and an article popped up. The news was there. I just had to retrain myself to use DuckDuckGo’s structure for news searches.

It dawned on me that I had tuned myself to Google. I had always thought of Google as a clean sheet of paper — possibly because of its nice white interface — but in fact I had molded my questions to adjust to how Google likes to answer questions.

Now I was tuning myself to a different service, DuckDuckGo, which had different ways of answering questions. It was like a new relationship; I was discovering my new partner’s quirks and foibles. And it was empowering; I was tuning myself to a partner that didn’t have a hidden agenda of building a file on me for advertising purposes.

I had broken free from Google, and the world was still on its axis. I had mastered another service and could still find the information I needed. The whole experience reminded me of a quote from Marc Andreessen, the man who created Netscape, the first Web-browsing software, back in 1994. “The spread of computers and the Internet will put jobs in two categories,” Andreessen said in a 2012 interview. “People who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do.”

Mastering my switch to DuckDuckGo made me feel I had a better chance of being in the category of people who tell computers what to do.

Excerpted from DRAGNET NATION: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin to be published February 25, 2014 by Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

TIME relationships

10 Lessons from an Economist on Love

Valentine card
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Now, you might think that love is an area best reserved for the philosophers, psychologists and biologists. William Nicolson begs to differ. Instead try using the cool, rational tools of economics to get yourself a whopping return on your investments in the market for relationships, starting with these 10 rules:

1. Restrict your supply, but only once you’ve differentiated your product

Rule 1 of any Economics textbook or dating manual is always going to be play hard to get (restrict your supply) to increase your price. You need to be expensive because people don’t want to get with someone who is obtainable by just about anyone — we want to feel that we have earned exclusive access to our lover’s affections. But don’t go playing it cool from the off — they won’t know that you’re worth the extra cost until you’ve differentiated yourself from who else is on the market.

2. Incur type-revealing costs if you want to show her that you’re a nice guy

A big problem for nice guys in the early days is they’ll do and say almost exactly the same things as jerks, only they’ll do or say it because they like the girl, while the jerk will do it because they want to sleep with them. How can the nice guy differentiate himself without going overboard (see Rule 1)? He needs to do something a jerk would not be willing to do: wait. Jerks discount future pay-offs more than nice guys, and so if the nice guy deliberately inhibits his chances of getting action quickly (such as going for lunch rather than dinner), he’ll let the girl know he’s into her for real.

3. When evaluating your relationship, ignore sunk costs and think about opportunity costs

This may sound pretty brutal, but don’t dwell on the great times you’ve had with someone when deciding whether to carry on a relationship. It’s never “a waste” to end a relationship because you once were happy. You need to think about how many good times there are to come, or whether better times could be had elsewhere. Sorry, just being rational.

4. If they seem too good to be true, they probably are

Has the most amazingly beautiful, clever, funny, single person ever come up to you in a bar and asked you out for dinner? The chances are that this hasn’t happened to you, as someone else will probably have already beaten you to that person. In a market for relationships, where many parties have access to the same information about the “assets” being traded, good deals don’t stick around for long — so if someone’s single, they’re probably single for a reason.

5. Think about your risk preferences before investing in a relationship

If you ask me, one of the key selling points of being in any relationship is security. You know whom you’re going home with at the end of the night, and you’ve always got someone to turn to when things go pear-shaped. In other words, you get a steady, risk-free investment — a bit like putting your cash in the bank. But perhaps you actually prefer volatility, with uncertain periods of drought punctuated with big one-off pay-offs from one-night stands. If that’s the case, it might not be time to hang up your stock-trading jacket just yet.

6. Playing the field? Diversify your portfolio

Never been much of a player myself, but if I were to do it, I would take the fund manager approach: take on different levels of risk with each girl by coming on strong with some and more conservatively with others. If you get burnt on the risky trades, you’ll still have your safe-harbors keeping you afloat. Smooth (returns).

7. You can get a better return on your investment by sacrificing liquidity

Because people like to stay flexible with their money (i.e. to keep it liquid), they are compensated with better returns when they tie it up for longer periods of time. The same goes for relationships: be prepared to give up some of your freedoms and you will be richly rewarded.

8. Self-deprecation is a signal to the market that you have strong fundamentals

By showing willingness to talk your own abilities down, you are in fact showing that you have plenty of ability to spare. Arrogant people, on the other hand, don’t have sufficient ability to withstand the cost of self-deprecation. So that’s how Hugh Grant does it.

9. Pack your calendar to boost your bargaining power

We tend to get our way with something when we have lots of other potential options: if you go shopping in a market, you can usually haggle someone down by saying you’ll go to the next door stall. Similarly, in a relationship if you feel like you’re getting a rough deal, make yourself as busy as possible. If you can show them you’re perfectly happy without them, you’ll soon be getting your way.

10. Find an undervalued asset

If you’re not having much luck pursuing the most attractive people around, you’ll actually be much better off seeking out those who don’t get so much attention — sacrifice looks for quality of personality. Looks depreciate over time, and so tend to be overvalued in the short-run. Warmth and kindness, on the other hand, are just the opposite.

William Nicolson is the author of The Romantic Economist.

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