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In the last blog post, I mentioned that I’ve Quit Chrome. The blow is even bigger when I mention that on my iOS devices I am exclusively using Safari for my browsing. Now in order to start this article on the right foot, I want to talk about the alternate search engine…
Illusion of choice
The choice between Google, Bing, and Yahoo are like the choice between Coke, Pepsi, and Gatorade. They all seem different, and they are all bad for you. All of them collecting information that you send and storing them on the same servers. Yahoo search is ultimately a Bing search, just with the different makeup. So instead of choosing the lesser of two evils (and efficiently killing of the quality of Google search), I decided to make a difference, and look for some underground search engine.
I didn’t have to look for long, because the crew at MacPowerUsers podcast recommended me, wholeheartedly the rising star of search: DuckDuckGo!
Quite honestly, the question should be “Why not DuckDuckGo?”. There is a huge list of reasons why opting out of Google and other commercial search engines. So let’s cover all those benefits one by one:
1. Don’t bubble us – This info-page will explain to you how and why are search engines and social media creating a bubbled reality for you, without access to the real information. You will only get the data, that is aligned with your political, religious and other preferences. This is stifling critical thinking, and creating a cozy reality where you don’t have to think too much. If you pick up DDG, you will avoid the bubble reality and you will let some information sync in, that otherwise wouldn’t get to you. Not everything has to match your view, be open-minded.
2. Don’t Track us – Google and other commercial advertisers are storing numerous unique information about your IP address, cookies, browser you’re using, and various other elements that they are allowed to collect based on Terms of Service you agree upon every time you use their ever-changing services. DuckDuckGo policy explicitly states that they aren’t collecting any sort of information about you, nor about your searches. You can safely search, without the fear of retribution from government officials. In times where possibility of tyranny and smothered freedoms are more than realistic, this feature is becoming more appealing by the day.
3. Goodies – If you consider yourself a power user, you will absolutely adore the freedom that comes with DDG. One of the most important features is Bang Search, which I will cover a bit more later on. But I can only say that the geeks and tech junkies are absolutely going to fall in love with it on first sight.
How long have I been using it?
I’ve been using DuckDuckGo on and off for quite a while. The main issue that was preventing me from going “all-out” with it was the inability to set it as my default browser in iOS, and I’ve got that one even sorted out with iFile. The ubiquity was quite important for me, but without compromising my usual workflow. I will write about this at the later point.
For past 2 weeks, I’ve been utilizing it completely and made the complete switch from Bing on iOS. As this transition is finalized, I believe that I have quite enough experience with DuckDuckGo as my only search engine.
Can DDG compete with Google?
DuckDuckGo can definitively compete with Google, and over time I’ve noticed drastic improvement, so even though it’s not going to be quite Google, after some adjustments and getting used to extra functionality, I’ve got the notion of DDG being my “default” browser.
The main problem is the not-English languages. It simply doesn’t index the pages that are on some foreign language. Every time I wanted something in Serbian, I would have to go the Bing route. If the Bing didn’t deliver me the results, I would have to go to the dreaded Mr. G. But for most American based readership this won’t represent any problem.
Not only DDG competes, it also out-googles Google in certain areas of search. If you are searching various different websites, there is a simple solution for how to search all of them from one place with Bang search. Bang search means putting a symbol in front of your query and you will instantly get moved to the search results page of that particular website. So I can search Twitter straight from the DuckDuckGo in my omnibar.
How long have you been contemplating leaving Google in search for something that is more aware of your privacy? I know that a lot of people will argue that you will never face the problems, but you never know what kind of life circumstances will catch you off guard, and how your search preferences can come back and bite you. Why would you have another risk, where somebody can abuse your preferences against you? Your search should be none of Google’s business. Your personal interests are not their commodity to trade it without compensating you for giving you the information.
DuckDuckGo is a search engine for intelligent people. It involves some working upfront, set extensions, setting and other things that normal people don’t do. In terms of productivity you might lose some time up front, and until you get used to the new results, but when you properly utilize the additional tools and functions, you will actually gain productivity. Therefore it got my full endorsement.