Well, I tried. I honestly did try. I managed until 10am on my Google-free day before I accidentally put a search term into the Google toolbar and hit enter. Too easy to do. Too hard not to! I did go the rest of the day without Google, but having become tangled up in a hideous alternative search engine my day without Google mainly consisted of me having a look at Facebook (they don't own *that* yet... do they?) and looking at my Open University stuff.
What did I learn from my Google-free other than I have a will of jelly? Probably that Google has gone from simple search engine to being the dominant aspect of my online world. I couldn't check my blog, couldn't check other Blogspot blogs, couldn't look at the various RSS feeds I've subscribed to, couldn't check my e-mail, couldn't check the calendar I share with my hubs, couldn't upload pictures, couldn't take notes online... couldn't do internet searches in the way I'm used to doing. I admit it... I'm a Google-a-holic. I've sold my soul to Google and every new tool or service I subscribe to is another nail in my online coffin! I love Google Notebook, Reader, Picasa, Search, Scholar, Calendar, Gmail, Blogger. There, I've said it. I'm a shameless Googling hussy.
Seriously though, isn't it kinda scary? How did they become so dominant? They wander in like an old friend, tempt you with one cool little service... then swallow up your online self whole. The thing I think it does show, other than that Google is to the internet what Tesco is to grocery shopping, is that people don't actually like to think that hard about the specific tools they're using. They want them a) to work, b) to work without interfering with other stuff and c) not to require a big learning curve with each additional element. Google does it. Yes, there are other facilities out there which could do the job just as well, if not better - take Zoho which knocks the socks off Google Notebook and Docs - but I just cannot be bothered to learn to integrate them into my web experience. I suspect that I'm not unique in this. And I also suspect that if we're talking about the equivalent educational experience a VLE should provide, then it actually shows that a VLE doesn't need to have bells, whistles and any other cherry on the cake... it just needs to do the job it's meant to do and not get in the way of people's learning.
Was my day without Google worthwhile? Yup! Will I do it again? Not in a hurry. I'll carry on trying other things, carry on experimenting... but nothing so far is giving me a real reason to shift my lazy backside away from Google just yet.