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Google’s “Scary” Database of Intentions

June 28, 2008

John Batelle’s The Search” is all about how Google is changing the rules of business, the world and ourselves. Google’s Database of Intentions he writes about is a collective pool of information about what we want, where we live, what are we excited about, what do we care about most, what are we keenly interested in, etc. It does sound like Big Brother, but we do not really know whether “he” is watching? Each one of us experiences our identity give-away to Google piece by piece and only when we are confronted with the realization that somewhere (perhaps in Googleplex?) the pieces may come together, so that none of us remains a puzzle as an individual. It does sound unsettling, but should we be afraid of Google?

I can not be paranoid about it for the following reasons:

1. There is no evidence so far that my collective individual search data is being piled up and misused.

2. I can not participate and contribute to the Conversation without yielding information about who I am and what I am interested in. It does not work that way – a community of anonymous participants.

The reason for why we should be cautious though is that the potential damage of the misuse of all that collect information is critical. The risk is huge and by the time there is enough evidence that it is being misused, it may be too late to recover one’s own reputation, peace and privacy… Imagine you wake up one morning and you find 10 sales people at your door trying to sell you your most favorite things, because they know what you crave, why you want it and where to find you. That is disturbing.

Batelle’s logic in “The Search” goes in the following sequence, according to me: intent drives search, search drives clicksreams and clickstreams drive profits. Therefore, my intentions, wants and desires are somebody else’s profit. There is nothing wrong with that. The annoying part is why do they have to know all about I care for? Google, if used to this end, can give them a glimpse (or even a map 🙂 of my mind. It is all about control. The scary thing about all this so far for me is whether and to what end the government may get a hold of this powerful collection of knowledge. Let’s hope not.

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