Google Wildcards and Personalized Search

After setting my own personal blog posting record in October I have been silent for a few months… 😉

Just stumbled across this today – it has probably always been there and most of you probably already know about it, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. You can use wildcards in Google, for example search for “IBM acquired * in 1995” on Google.

This is just another typical example of how you (ie. me) think you know a product and are “happy enough” with it to stop learning more about it. (More in the Google Help Search Basics…)

Speaking of Google I read in one of their offficial blog posts that they will now provide personalized search results when you are logged in:

Keep in mind that personalization is subtle—at first you may not notice any difference. But over time, as the search engine learns your preferences, you’ll see it. For example, I (Sep) am an avid Miami Dolphins fan (no joke). Searching for [dolphins] gives me info about my favorite football team, while a marine biologist colleague gets more information about her salt-water friends.

This sounds great to me, but of course it again raises important questions on privacy – I’m not too sure that I want all searches I’m making stored somewhere, available to who knows who.
Living in a pretty well developed democracy I’m not too worried about government finding out stuff about me but it’s not hard to imagine that a country like China can leagally force Google to give out information about its citizens. And it’s not too hard to imagine a future bug that by mistake will give the whole world access to your searches if they now your email address (that you use to logon to Google) – all of a sudden your employer knows that you’re looking for a new job, your wife that you been searching for xxx, etc…
Not to mention all the new work this will bring to all SEOs (Search Engine Optimizers) out there 😉

Categorized as Google

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