SmallP - 4:12 pm on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)
I find the whole personalized search thing very scary. I've spoken to many non-webmasters about it recently, from all walks of life, and not one of them knows that their search results are tailored towards what Google already knows about them and what Google thinks they want to know.
I worry about the implications for my teenagers. If they ever get off Facebook and try a Google search for something, will they be pushed towards (without being aware of it) the narrow range of sites that their friends visit? What if they want to break away from their peer group? What happens as they grow up and start wanting more sophisticated searching - will Google grow up with them or will it continue to base what it shows them on what they looked at last month and last year? What if they click on something stupid at 15 - and get "judged" by it and haunted by it for months afterwards? What if they are doing research on Nazis for a history or politics project and get marked down as having extreme right wing inclinations?
I've recently come up against this "narrowing" of results myself. Every year at this time I search for about 30 interesting videos around a particular theme. In previous years it has been a joy to do this, and I am often surprised and intrigued by what I discover. This year it seems that the millions of videos available on YouTube have been shrunk to only about 250 available to me - I am going round and round in circles and being shown the same videos over and over again, no matter what variations of keywords that I type in. And yes, I get better results searching YouTube with Bing.
Finally, I have to say that I get very peed off when Google thinks it knows what I want better than I know it myself. I have my own brain, thank you, and I'm perfectly able to use it. I don't want my searches to be limited to the sites that I clicked on last week, or that my "social network" +1, or that my postcode suggests that I might be predisposed to. Google used to allow me to explore all sorts of sites, all over the world, good and bad, interesting or dull, heavily ad-laden or ad-less, and let me make up my own mind what I thought of them. That's why I loved Google and made it the search engine of my choice.