libraries | play | information | media | policy | culture


Google Will Read Your Mind

Thanks to a nudge from Ian Holsman, today I read this article by Sharon Waxman about Google's plan to automatically deliver news relevant to each user's interests based on the user's online behavior.

Under this latest iteration of advanced search, users will be automatically served the kind of news that interests them just by calling up Google’s page. The latest algorithms apply ever more sophisticated filtering – based on search words, user choices, purchases, a whole host of cues – to determine what the reader is looking for without knowing they’re looking for it.
I do wonder how the public will react to this in terms of privacy. I know Google has always captured and used our online behavioral data, but they've never applied these metrics in a manner so overt and personal to the general user as this product. Targeted one-line ads that creepily match your email is one thing, but presenting you automatically with a page that sums up all of your interests is another.

Of course, convenience is a great drug, so even if Google loses a few users who think of them as the all-seeing flaming eye of Sauron, most people might just go along because they get exactly what they want without having to search for or even think about it.

1 comment:

Porpentine11 said...

Google's out of its corporate head. Well, I don't really know, but I'll avoid Google searches that I do for my private interests, and only use the search engine for professional reasons. I've given Amazon a lot of information about the books I own, and it has the list of those I have bought. I'm often pleased with the suggestions I get based on the information, though I wish Amazon could figure out that if I own one edition of say Huck Finn, I don't want every other one on the market. My having the one sould suggest I don't want another one until I've lost the one I have or the water leaking from my roof destroys it. My having it also should suggest that I know about it and don't need to be told that it exists. The difference between Amazon and Google is that I choose to tell Amazon what I have or what my interests are: if I do a search for something like Stephen King, I can delete the terms from my browser history so that it isn't used for suggestions; I can even tell Amazon not to consider something I've bought, like a Stephen King novel, to offer me suggestions. But do I want Google advertizing to any one with access to my computer the kinds of information, even if legal, that I'm interested in? I think not. My son could find out about my obsession with the great Tony Alamo and think the life of a cult member is a good idea.