February 24, 2009

Google Thoughts

Here's one to make Phillip's heart go aflutter. Jonathan Rosenberg of Google posts on the Google Blog his vision for the future of searching and the ubiquitous nature of information. It's very compelling, but also, as usual, a little unnerving for anyone with quaint notions of privacy and the value-added expertise of professionals, like, oh I don't know, maybe... librarians!

Rosenberg states rather placidly: "Why should a user have to ask us a question to get the information she needs?"

This is a big part of Google's vision, to build profiles of individual user usage and interest indexes that would, by definition, require them to know who you are, what you are doing, and when you are doing it. That strike anyone else as a wee bit frightening? But one cannot use these technologies and come away unimpressed. The question for me, however, is at what cost do these impressive tools come?

I am encouraged, though, by thoughts like these:
This is both good and bad news. No one argues the value of free speech, but the vast majority of stuff we find on the web is useless. The clamor of junk threatens to drown out voices of quality.

But make no mistake, Google intends to make all the added-value determinations of what is quality and what matters to you. Here my concern could be more broadly interpreted as lowest common data denominator, which I'm certain Google will argue is not the case. I certainly hope not. Regardless, this is a fascinating company doing some incredibly fascinating things that anyone interested in how information is owned, shared, and disseminated should follow very closely. We will.

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