Google’s Chrome OS has a basic problem: The operating system wants to move everything to the cloud, but — despite futurist protestations to the contrary — not every aspect of contemporary technology is ready to make the leap. Case in point: Your print spooler, that archaic little piece of software that manages the jobs sent to your local printer. While we’re entering the 378th consecutive “Year of the Paperless Office” (or so it seems), and the iPad/Kindle/netbook axis is absolutely convinced you won’t need dead-tree printouts of anything anymore, most of us still own printers and still need to actually print our documents onto the modern equivalent of papyrus.
So Google wants to to shift your print spooler to the cloud.
Google Cloud Print is a piece of software that will actually install on your Chrome OS PC, despite the fact that Google wants you to never have to store anything locally on Chrome OS. Nonetheless, Cloud Print will act as a next-generation print spooler and driver manager rolled into one, shifting jobs to a cloud-aware printer (they make those?) if it’s available or routing the job to your local printer if it’st ashamedly cloud-unawares. Oh, and you’ll never have a printer driver conflict again, because Google Cloud Print will handle all the driver management for your Chrome OS PC.
Setting aside the act that Google Cloud Print solves a problem that only Chrome OS PCs seem to have, the unspoken upshot here is that Google Cloud Print will allow Team “Don’t Be Evil” to index any item you choose to print. Not only will all your Web surfing and Google Apps correspondence feed Google’s desire to index your entire computational life, but now the exact model printer you own — along with anything you send to that printer — goes in your Google dossier, too.
Granted, if you’re using Chrome OS, odds are Google has already indexed all your documents whether you print them or not. And the ability to print to any nearby printer, even outside your house, is intriguing. Still, it’s just one more reminder that online privacy is not the default state of online activity, and keeping your own record of everything you do online maybe the only way to appreciate, comprehend, and adapt to all the information Google and its ilk have about you.
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