What’s it all About?
This rant isn’t just about tailored search results, it’s about being involved in the shared experience of a whole community. I read the newspaper and listen to radio news not just to be informed, but because it’s a good indication of what other people around me are reading and listening to. When I meet and interact with them, I therefore have a better idea of the range of views and opinions they are likely to have based on what I’ve seen and heard, knowing that they have very likely seen and heard a lot of it too. Plus there’s the water-cooler effect, where you can discuss current events and news on a common basis without having to explain everything first. This shared knowledge and experience, irrespective of how skewed it is by media and political interests, is one of the common threads that bind together members of communities and even countries.
It’s the same with a search. I’m not sure about you, but I want to get the same top search results as everyone else for the same search terms. I also want my searches to be through the entire available pool of results, not some restricted subset. If it’s being silently customised and tailored specifically for me, then it has pretty well lost a lot of it’s value to me. How can I trust the results? On what and from what is it being customised? Have I inadvertently and unknowingly cut off some potentially valuable sources by visiting a certain page or entering a specific search? If so, how can I find out and what can I do to get them back? Suddenly I’m not sharing in the same knowledge pool as everyone else.
There are some real issues with Google’s advertising approach as well. Advertisements for Xamarin’s Mono technology appear on just about every web page I visit these days. This is obviously because I have been to their website a fair bit. However, I went there to buy their product and then learn to how to use it. Now Google has been wasting their cash pretty well everyday for the past 6-8 months trying to interest me in buying something I’ve already bought.
I really don’t want my own knowledge and experience constantly reinforced and shoved back at me. I actually want it challenged and updated with new stuff from fields I haven’t heard of or didn’t even know existed. Also, I often don’t know exactly what I want until I see it, so serendipitously stumbling over things plays an important part in my everyday interaction with the web.
Please Google, give me the opportunity to opt out of tailored search results!
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