Google and Personalized Search – Collective Data Borg

I’m getting pretty in depth in studying the tools and services Google makes available to people with Google accounts. However I came across something today that made me wrinkle my nose and look down over the top of my glasses like my Grandma did when she knew I was telling fibs.

If you want to completely deactivate Google Personalized search results permanently you can do so by visiting this page. However when you do you get this fairly ominous warning

delete personaized search


The part that irks me is “you will not be able to access or manage your Search History”. If I wanted Google to save my search history, why am I required to have personalized search rammed down throat, with an all or nothing clause. I could understand if it was the other way around and they said you can’t have personalized searches without storing your browsing history, as there’s an obvious data prerequisite. It would seem to me that Google is trying to force the adoption of personalized search telling you that you can’t have your search history saved without getting personalized results.

However to see what the big issue is lets look at the query that got me started [diet plan]. Now here’s a look my personalized result, sitting right there at #3 is Jeremy Zawodny.

diet plan - Google Search

Now if you read Jeremy’s post, yes it is about a diet plan, but let’s be honest, he doesn’t deserve the #3 spot for that one, there’s some back of the house voodoo at work. Let’s turn off personalized search and see what we get

diet plan - Google Search2

We see now he’s dropped down to number 10. Still a little high but I suspect now just we’re seeing some over zealous authority trust scoring at work. I know who Jeremy is, and he’s not in my feeds in the Google feed reader, however I’m reasonably certain there’s a significant overlap in people who read many of the other search and technology blogs I do and who read his blog. Is it possible that everyone who contributes to the collective Google data borg influences everyone else also in the collective? I don’t have enough data to say with any degree of reliability, however as a concept it makes sense and is not unheard of. In fact it’s very similar in concept to Amazon using the purchases of other customers to recommend books, CD’s and DVD’s to you.

It’s something interesting to think about. If you aren’t even looking at what data Google is gathering and what they are doing I think you should. I also don’t think it’s a bad thing to have an old, established Google account that you can sprinkle with the data of your choosing. I said sprinkle not flood and dump.

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