My parents fed birds by hand. I did that too a few times. They would line up on a tree branch, twittering amongst each other as they waited for us to come out. Some birds would fly up, perch on our fingertips, pick a seed, crack it, eat it, then get back in line for another. Others would perch, pick a seed, and fly back to eat it on the branch. Each was a unique individual with his own style and concerns. After perching, each bird would make eye contact, clear eye contact with us before looking down to pick a seed. And the few times I fed them, they would look at me, then my father, and then me again, making clear eye contact each time.

They trusted us despite the immense size difference. If we were late, they would come to our window sill, peer in, tap tap tap to ask us to come out. Some even asked us to look at their nests, boasting of their first born. The more curious flew in through our open door, landing on the floor, turning their heads this way and that as they tried to make sense of our huge nest.

This, according to Theodore Xenophon Barber's book "The Human Nature of Birds", is not that unusual where trust is allowed to bloom.

Over the years, they had learned to trust us, become our friends; and for the most part, we trusted them.

But we used them too, winning prizes for our bird photos, having them keep the bugs down, etc. Those were some photos my mother took! We didn't know their names, didn't treat them as individuals; and got a lot of prestige for our photos of them. So yes, we used them.

Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc. are larger than you are. At some point, the size matters, for they are no longer interested in you as an individual, as much as in what they can gain from you. Same for ALL the internet services!

Google, MSN, Yahoo, and others profile you based on the words you use. They do that for advertising purposes. It's their bread and butter.

MSN comes crawling when they see odd medical terms in clients emails, trying odd ports on the servers.

Google's tool bar pre-fetches things to their servers, in effect letting you crawl the web for them, finding them relative interest levels as well as things they would not otherwise find, private things, like the vacation photos you might not want your boss to see.

AOL caches pages fetched through their narrow connection to the rest of the internet. They index their cache, making it available in their search engine for others to view.

As I have seen working for various clients, these things can be problems at times. Serious privacy and security problems at times.

We think we look them in the eye; but we have no idea what is going on in their heads.

As the saying goes, "There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch."