Google Gets Too Personal?

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Are personalized search results good or bad – or both? With the recent upgrades for Google account holders, a lot of people have begun to reconsider this question; Jim Hedger and Philipp Lenssen were among those who applied their minds to the issue.

In case you didn’t hear about Google’s advances personalized search, you can read about them here. A quick refresher: It may be a little while before the improvements take effect, but Google account holders should start seeing search results that have been tailored according to their search history.

This could be a good thing. Heck, it could be a great thing, a natural evolutionary step in search, because as Hedger points out, “Every person who uses Google is different. It’s hard to homogenize a billion or more users. Each one of those users has a unique set of circumstances and their own way of relating to information around them.”

Hedger also indicated that the personalization features aren’t exactly hard to use. “Logging into a Google service is as easy as opening your Gmail account or checking in with Google Analytics,” he wrote. “While neither service is currently used to provide personalization data, both are account log-in triggers that activate Google Search History.”

And yet, the prospect of personalized search is accompanied by quite a few boogeymen. Less than a week ago, Lenssen considered the “evolution of search,” in which he predicted some future developments. Not all of them would be welcome (many aren’t so much “bad” as “creepy”).

There’s also a more recent article from the WebProNews contributor and Google Blogoscoped writer titled “You Know Google Crossed a Limit When . . .” It’s not directly aimed at the recent Google upgrades (and I’m not coming down on them, either), but you get the idea.

Google Gets Too Personal?
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  • bpack

    I have never been a fan of tracking user site visit behavior. I think Google’s quest is mis-guided and will turn people off.

    I started new social search engine Sproose for this very reason, to provide search personalization without any tracking. Our goal is to let people choose what is relevant and share it with others. Google’s mission is $ revenue. The site tracking is a means to target ads for higher cpc rates….period.


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