The Personalized Search: What Am I Missing?
Have you noticed how things you’re interested in have become so relevant to the rest of the online community? That is because your search results are specifically tailored to your interests; things you have previously typed into your computer’s search bar. The Internet is watching, and recording your every keystroke.
The web’s most popular search engine giant, Google, introduced “Personalized Search” to its users at the close of 2009. This feature records everything you search for into your Google Web History, to make your life easier next time you perform a web search. It’s like your own personal sorter. The next time you perform a search, Google will take into account what you have searched for in the past to show you results not only based on search term relevancy, but also your interests.
So what are the drawbacks?
With all my searches personalized, am I missing out on information I haven’t even thought about? The answer is probably yes. Because of your vacation to Hawaii next week, all you did this week was search for tourist attractions in Oahu; and your browser remembered. You were preoccupied with what volcano you would be taking your picture on top of for your Facebook profile picture, and you missed out on that interesting article you could have written about for your blog.
When we look at features like personalized search, what else are we missing? Our privacy for one. With search engines documenting all of our online activities, is anything private anymore? Who exactly is looking at this information, and how are they using it? People get antsy when they fill out online forms because they are worried about who is potentially selling the information. But with personalized search are our online identities being bought and sold without us even knowing?
To be fair, personalized search does make your life easier most of the time. But to protect yourself against the potentially negative effects, be aware of what you search for and be conscious of the consequences. You are what you search.