Saturday, December 5, 2009

You Are What You Search: Part 1

As the web continues to evolve, it is becoming more and more common for search tools to offer a personalized experience to the end user. In my next few posts, I'd like to explore some of the emerging trends that are destined to impact in the ways we explore on the World Wide Web.

What's the Motivation?
A few years ago, I was intrigued by the introduction of, a search engine hosted by Amazon, that promised to save a history of anyone's searches. My initial thought was that such information might be useful in an archeological sense, allowing future generations to see what held our interest at a given time. Dose of Reality: A9 search data was collated with each user's Amazon account.

A-9 has since moved on to new search strategies, including the acquisition of SnapTell, a mobile app that identifies CDs, books, DVDs, and videogames based on cover photos. Dose of Reality: Amazon sells CDs, books, DVDs and videogames.

In Whose Best Interest?

It's now been confirmed by SearchEngineLand, that Google has been personalizing search results for me, based on my past searches and click-throughs, but my search engine of choice actually knows much more about me than that. Consider the data that Google has collected through your use of Google Apps by visiting your personal Google Dashboard.

Although the potential for archived search histories was known to me, it was a bit of an awakening today, to come across my personal Google Web History. If you have a Google account, you've been presented with Terms of Service, and have granted permission for Google to use what you submit, post or display (11.1). If you're concerned about the security of this data, the Google Privacy Centre might allay your fears.

What does the Future Hold?
Whether or not Amazon and Google follow parallel or intersecting paths, these two giants play key roles in Epic 2015 an visionary piece (now almost 5 years old) that extrapolates current trends.

Google and Amazon each offer some terrific 'Free' tools, but maybe it's high time we consder the price we're really paying?
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