December 12, 2009

Google splits apart the search

Adorno and Horkheimer might have something to say about this, too.

I thought I had noticed this beginning to happen and was actually planning to post something about it soon, but Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land has the full story: “Google’s Personalized Results: The “New Normal” That Deserves Extraordinary Attention.”

Read through this and then consider what an inconvenience it is for searchers like us librarians who are searching on many different things for many different reasons. The record of past searches interferes with the results of subsequent searches. I have noticed this happening for a little while and find it very annoying.

So there are two issues with it. From a librarian’s perspective, it makes it a little harder yet to control our results. From a social perspective, it further fragments the culture by making our exposure to media yet more isolated and individualized. I’m looking for the good in this decision but frankly it seems to me that they’re working on a problem that doesn’t exist. The more their AI tries to do our thinking for us the less power we have to do what we want with the search. It’s not good.


  1. I don’t really see this as a big deal.
    A) There is an opt-out.
    B) I actually enjoy my personalized results, they make Google more convenient.
    C) Maybe 80% of the time when I’m doing librarian work, I’m using our OPAC or databases, not Google. When I do use Google, it’s often for phone numbers or other ready reference questions.
    As for “further fragments the culture by making our exposure to media yet more isolated and individualized,” that’s a large claim in a culture which is already very atomized. I’m not sure that Google changing their search contributes much to a trend driven by much, much larger forces (as in, the economy within which Google operates). Just my 2 cents, and it is nice to have people talking about this rather than blindly obeying.

    Comment by Eric P. — December 12, 2009 @ 10:00 am

  2. I see it as a manifestation of a larger trend rather than something initiating a trend. It’s an incremental change, which makes it hard to criticize in itself. But as a manifestation of a larger trend I think it is a good example.

    Comment by Rory Litwin — December 12, 2009 @ 11:54 am

  3. Kramer auto Pingback[…] Danny Sullivan explains why librarians might care about what he calls “the biggest change that has ever happened in search engines” Google’s Personalized Results. [juice] […]

    Pingback by » Blog Archive » the nature of observing disturbs the observed — December 13, 2009 @ 10:59 am

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