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Do Personal Analytics Make Google Less Creepy?
Unquestionably, there are abuses of user data that go too far. But the truly troubling stories have a halo effect. Early adopter culture is hardening against the idea of any kind of data collection about users. But cultural norms are always changing. Isn't it possible that there are some kinds of data collection that could be valuable to users?
Google itself has begun trying to change the norms around this. It created a new opt-in monthly account activity report that provides Google users with some basic analytics about their Googling habits.
Google ends their ebook program for independant bookstores. Full story here.
Author Delia Ephron wrote a NYT opinion piece about losing her domain name. Google must love people like Delia.
Quote from Delia's NYT piece: I hadn’t looked at my Web site in a while, but I figured that, with a novel coming out, I should bring it up to date. So I Googled deliaephron.com (I never had gotten around to bookmarking it) and it wasn’t there.
She knows her entire domain name but instead of typing it into the address bar she Googles it. Delia writes an entire piece about how important a domain name is and then she uses Google to get to her site.
If you are at all tech savvy the piece has several lines that will make you quirk an eyebrow. Ms. Ephron sums thing up nicely when she says, "The Web can freak you out, and I freak out easily."
5 Key Points From Google's Privacy-Policy Letter to Congress
Point No. 1: Google still isn't selling your personal data.
Point No. 2: You're still up the creek if you get reeled in by a phishing scam.
Point No. 3: You can still use Google and YouTube for searching without Google knowing that you are the one doing the search.
Point No. 4: Users still have lots of options over how they're tracked across the Web.
Point No. 5: If you don't love the new integrated Google, you can always leave it.
"In the age of Google, our minds are adapting so that we are experts at knowing where to find information even though we don’t recall what it is.
The researchers found that when we want to know something we use the Internet as an ‘external memory’ just as computers use an external hard drive.
Nowadays we are so reliant on our smart phones and laptops that we go into ‘withdrawal when we can’t find out something immediately’."
The fact of the matter is, Google doesn't appear to be doing anything worse than what companies likeApple, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook have doing for years. It's just that Google has taken arguably unprecedented pains to alert the public of imminent changes to its privacy policies and has made the new policy approachable enough for the average person to read it. (Or skim it. Or skim what someone else wrote about it after skimming it.)
Imagine a research database, that upon searching for "wind energy," gives top results about the benefits of turbine technology to one student, while another student (with a different search history, or in a different state) is instead shown articles that focus on the noise and vertigo that wind turbines produce. Sound fishy? Google has unveiled a more personal search that does exactly this sort of thing, called "Search, plus Your World. Is this more about advertising revenue than providing access to information? For a nice review of the issue, see a competitor's Escape your search engine Filter Bubble! When, if ever, would you want filtered results?
Libraries begin lending out Chromebooks
Google is getting the word out there on its Chromebook product, working with libraries to gain more support from consumers.
Google has been working with public libraries recently in order to circulate its Chromebook concept. At least three libraries have been working towards lending out Chromebooks to patrons for a period of time.
Rik Myslewski reports in The Register that Wikipedia is looking at a possible upcoming blackout. Declan McCullagh at CNET notes that this is part of a possible protest response to the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act being debated by the United States Congress that has potential extraterritorial effects.