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Google’s search information paradox

The very fact that Google are even talking about keeping our personal search data longer than eighteen months demonstrates their thinking. If you want personal search to work, then the likes of thee & me need to share more personal information with the search engines…

There’s no way around with this particular search information paradox, one not solved by any purely observation routines and algorithms that Google et al might have in place.

I recently ran an article on the challenges of personal search:

“The goal of the one search result isn’t a new concept, and it’s certainly possible.

But it’s not so much a question of the search engines knowing more about you and what you want, but more about the search engines knowing what you’re doing and what you want the information for.

In the real world, you start a complex question with some background information. So if the search engines want to be as smart people, then people have to be prepared to take the extra time and make the extra effort.”

And those at Google must be acutely aware of the search information paradox:

“Speaking about the long-term aspirations for Google, Eric Schmidt, the firm’s chief executive, said one day the search engine could potentially answer questions such as ‘”What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘Which college should I go to?’

‘Google is not at all done with your information problems. There are many, many examples of where it would be nice if Google had more of an ability to understand time and choices.’”

None of which can be achieved with just eighteen months of personal search data and observational search algorithms alone.

Privacy issues aside, I welcome any advances in Google’s algorithms that not only become more predictive, but start to deal with hypotheticals, as well as more speculative and abstract questions.

After all, these are the questions we ask each other every day.

Nice day out, don’t you think? I wonder if it’s going to rain…

Recommended reading

  1. Hyper-personal search ‘possible’
  2. Blah, Blah! Technology: SEO is dead? Not quite…
  3. Blah, Blah! Technology: Google Universal no panacea for all search
  4. Blah, Blah! Technology: Vote for Google!
  5. Blah, Blah! Technology: Web 2.0 + 1

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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