• When memories vanish. The perils of using Google Docs.

Back in 2005-6, not sure exactly, I started using a program called Writely. It was one of the original online word processors and I loved it right away because it freed me from being dependent on a particular computer. I could work on a doc at the office on one computer, come home and work on it on another and if were traveling, I could simply login from any computer and check my document. I could even read my docs on my Blackberry. Then Google bought humble Writely and... made the interface better. And somewhere along the way I discovered that Writely/Google Docs saved all of my revisions. This was gold. I could open a doc and dig back to find every iteration of it I had ever made, and in the process maybe rediscover some good ideas I had been too quick to kill.

In time, I made Google Docs my go-to program for lyrics. It was perfect because finally I had not only every lyric I was working on in one place rather than on one Word doc on one computer, or a copy of that doc, or a copy of a copy, but also I had every tortured re-write. And mobile access. Man, it was The Best and created a lot of love within me for Google, never mind that it was Writely’s idea. Then one day, not too long ago, a very innocent dialogue box popped up on Google Docs wanting to know if I’d like to see my Google Doc in the new editor. Sure, why not? I clicked “preview”, it looked fine, I updated. Then I figured, to be safe, I should update my other docs. To date, I’ve done a good portion of them and just this very day I realized I had missed something KIND OF FUCKING IMPORTANT. Updating to the new editor meant losing all revisions. Yes, Google had some shitty, ugly little dialogue box telling me this but I missed it. And now, what am I supposed to do? I can’t call Google, no one can, unless you’re BIG, BIG, BIG. I can’t email them. I can’t chat. All I can do is post a puny little question onto one of Google’s online help forums because that’s how Google rolls: you solve your own problems and if you can’t the community will. We’ll see.

And this experience, so devastating because access to all my revisions was a key part of my songwriting process and was going to prove invaluable in my plans to write about how each of the songs on my new album came into being, has made me kind of hate Google. Just like that. Does Google care? Doubtful. In fact, many Googlers probably spend much of their days talking about how fucking stupid all their users are. I mean, you get what you pay for, right? So fuck off you fucktard of a freeloader. Well, I would have paid for Google search, I would paid for Gmail, I would have paid for Google Docs because I want the contract of payment. I want to be able to say, “Look, I paid for this and now it doesn’t work, help me out.” But with Google, no can do.

And so I am waiting, waiting in vain most likely, for someone out their to answer my question in the Google forums and lead me to the promised land of recovering my revisions. Yes, I am a peon, a nobody, I have just about zero influence, but from this day forward, rather than promote Google Docs to fellow songwriters and copywriters as a great tool I will talk about how it let me down and how Google ignored — or probably never even heard — my pleas for help. If this is doing no evil, I’d hate to see what the company considers to be evil.