As Senator Ted Stevens taught us, the internet is a series of tubes. Personally, I think it is much more. The internet is like a huge online garage sale. You may go there looking for vintage records, and walk away with Rockem Sockem Robots (the metal version, not plastic one), or a Snake Eyes action figure with all the original accessories. This exploratory discovery process that the internet provides is what makes it special – You can always find something new or interesting.
Now, with Personalized Search, Google is threatening to take the uniqueness of the internet away. The goal of Personalized Search is to help provide you with the most relevant, individualized search results possible. Although this may sound like a great idea, after looking into how they personalize these results, I can honestly say, I will never search Google again while signed in to my account.
When you are signed in to your Google account, Personalized Search works by looking at your past search history, as well as the search and news results you have clicked on and then uses these items to reorder how your results appear for a search query. Google goes on to say that although you may not notice a huge impact right away, over time, as you build up a search history, your results will begin to change.
After reading about this new feature, I started to wonder how this may impact the search results I see. The first site that came to mind was Wikipedia. Although I would never quote Wikipedia as a credible source of information, when I see a Wikipedia result show up, often times I am inclined to click on it just to see what people have to say. If I signed into my Google account, and Personalized Search was stalking me around noticing that I had a propensity to click on Wikipedia results, how long would it take before Wikipedia type results littered the first two or three pages of my search results? For that matter, how long will it take to cut me off from a large percentage of the sites online just because I have never visited them before?
I know that Google is just trying to make our online searching experiences better, but we are not livestock. Put down the cattle prod and stop trying to herd us.