Google Personalization: Less Objectivity, More Revenue?

November 6, 2013

I read “Google Wants to Build Maps That Customize Themselves Based on What They Know about You.” The main point of the write up is that allegedly Google wants to use information about a user’s behavior to figure out what to put on a map. I am okay with this because I use paper maps. Call me old fashioned, but there it is. I wanted to capture this “personalization” item because it supports my argument that objectivity in search results is being redefined. The end of the “individualized Google” or “ig” service does not mean that personalization is losing steam at Google. Personalization is becoming more important as Google works overtime to find a way to keep the ad revenues flowing and growing. The key point is that most users will not know that search results are “shaped.” The notion of some old style yardsticks like precision and recall as ways to determine some of a search system’s attributes is out the window. Shaping raises some interesting questions. Those who don’t care to ponder what happens when information is aggressively filtered using methods that are not disclosed will be just fine. For those who are more sensitive to verification and validation, the effort required to get what I call “clean” and “unfiltered” information goes up. Good for advertisers. Not so good for those who assume that online equates with accuracy, comprehensiveness, and objectivity.

Stephen E Arnold, November 6, 2013


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