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Google Gets Personal: But What About the Crumbum Who Used the Computer Before You Did?

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There is an old joke about a nervous guy on an airplane and his seatmate who talks about how the plane won’t crash because it’s his lucky day. The nervous guy retorts, “what does it matter how lucky you are if one of the other passengers is unlucky?” (There are other variations on this joke, so just bear with me here.)

Librarians, lawyers, and others who answer Other People’s Questions, or anyone who shares a computer, may be dismayed about this Google Personalization “feature,” although I’m sure it is neither the whole story nor the end of the story.

Google’s Personalized Results: The “New Normal” That Deserves Extraordinary Attention, Dec 7, 2009, by Danny Sullivan

Excerpt: “On Friday afternoon, Google made the biggest change that has ever happened in search engines, and the world largely yawned. Maybe Google timed its announcement that it was personalizing everyone’s search results just right, so few would notice. Maybe no one really understood how significant the change was. Whatever the reason, it was a huge development and deserves much more attention than it has received so far….” (read full post)

Personalized Search for everyone, 12/04/2009 03:01:00 PM: “Today we’re helping people get better search results ….”

(And, they do have instruction for “turning off personalization,” as ominous as that sounds.)

As far as I’m concerned, the last time (well, one of the last times) we got a corporation trying to Help Us Out online, we ended up with many annoying wordprocessing features (and assumptions about what we want), and grammatical errors, which we have to wrestle with daily to override or correct. Sigh.

Still, we’re better off now than we were with the typewriter and print indexes to periodicals. Aren’t we?

Linked to from Library Juice , which also links to related commentary at Librarian dot net: the nature of observing disturbs the observed, Saturday, December 12th, 2009.

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