Why We Dont Get A Live Google Display

    March 6, 2006

Xooglers’ Doug Edwards explains why the famous scrolling display of Google queries, located in the Googleplex lobby, isn’t made available for public use.

Larry never cared much for the scrolling queries screen. More than anyone, he was focused on privacy issues and alert to the currents of paranoia and information seepage that have recently come to the fore. He felt the scrolling screen could inadvertently reveal personal data, because queries could contain names or information that users would prefer to remain private (for example, “John Smith DUI arrest in Springfield” or “Mary Jones porn movie”). Moreover, it could cause people to think more about their privacy and raise unnecessary alarm over what information they were conveying with each search.

There are several reasons a company wouldn’t want that information out there, including worries about privacy and porn searches and people spamming the display. And no company is more likely to be worried about such things than Google. Still, I would have loved to have been able to install a Google Live screensaver, or buy a product from the Google Store that displayed live queries, or even a simulation of them, or even a sanitized version of them.

As is, my only option is to sit in Google’s lobby and stare. And that gets old after a few weeks.

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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