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This week I finished reading Battelle’s, The Search.  Chapter 8 entitled, Search, Privacy, Government and Evil, really caught my eye.  I admit that I am one of many people who worry about their information being so easily accessible to the world.  Battelle’s opens with a simple question, “Did you know that Google knows here you live?”  Wow, hi, that is quite eye opening.  After reading the first page of the chapter, I typed in my 10 digit phone number, and yep, up popped my name and address.  OK, you have to admit that is a little creepy.  It makes you think twice about giving someone your phone number.  

Ramblings from the Hill Country urges people to block themselves from the Google service to protect their identity and the identity of their children.  I decided to follow his advice and block my number.  I was greeted with an interesting disclaimer.  There are at least ten more websites that allow reverse phone number lookup.  So, either we are being very paranoid to think there are sex offenders typing in random ten digit numbers in hopes of finding their next victim, or we need to proactive and get an unlisted number.  At the end of the day, we can protect our identity, and whether we like it or not, it is not “searches” fault if we do not take the correct precautions.     

Another quite disturbing point Battelle made was, “you are what the index says you are.”  Lucky for me, there was a famous character with my name portrayed by Susan Hayward.  Her PageRank is higher than mine (that is, of course, until I started a LinkedIn profile for this class).  I have no interest in being defined by my online brand.  Talk about impersonal!  I want friends, family, co-workers and potential employers to get to know me through ME, not their browser.

The “Database of Intentions” is quite an interesting concept, one that Battelle expanded on in his Monday blog post.  Following our intentions through search can prove to be quite helpful.  I search for printable sheet music, and “poof,” there are numerous ads for online companies that offer that product.  Overall, search data collection has been helpful.  However, a friend of mine was recently diagnosed with a serious disease and has spent a significant amount of time researching that illness online.  She is distraught that through online data collection her browser is covered with ads for new medications and WebMD.  Obviously, she has the choice to click or not to click, but those ads hit way too close to home for her.  Just like anything in life there is a good and bad side. 

Now, onto something completely different, my Introduction to the Digital Age professor, Nicco Mele, charged us with using Google for the entirety of our internet needs this week.   This assignment relates clearly to Battelle’s predictions for the future of Google.  He proposes that Google will cover every application imaginable in the near digital future.  So, back to Nicco’s challenge, he proposed for instance, that we check blogs through Google Reader, or monitor stock prices through Google Finance, and stay true to Gmail for the week.  I was very surprised that is really was not that hard to remain Google loyal.  Other than Microsoft Outlook at work, I rarely left the Google-verse.   (As evidence, every mention of Google in this post links to a different application and I barely scratched the surface.) Do you think you could stay Google devoted for one week?       


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