Google tracking my history

I turned on Google History. I’ve gotta admit, that really freaks me out to see all my surfing behavior tracked and displayed in my face. Google knows a lot about me and if I had access to your history I’d be able to surmise a lot about you. That’s my theory, anyway. What do you think about Google History? Does it make you think differently of Google? Why?

But, thinking about all this attention data that advertisers would love to get their hands on, what’s amazing is that I’ve told the Web that we’re expecting to have a child in September and I still haven’t gotten any ads for cribs, strollers, clothing, food, cameras, or anything else yet. I’m really surprised that I haven’t gotten more emails or Twitters or comments telling me about all things parental. People at work say that that industry kicks in after you have the kid. That’s a bad move. I’m looking to buy a new camera now. A new crib now. New clothes for Maryam now. And lots of other things before we have the kid.

And wait until the advertising industry understands just what Twitterment is. If I were a marketer working at Procter and Gamble this is what I’d be studying.

Comments

  1. Well, Google History is quite a relief for me as it enables me to follow on Gordon Bell’s footsteps even without having much resources at my disposal.

    And I’m not quite so worried as my data is not trapped in Google. I have found out ways to extract data back from Google, which I intend to use for some research.

    Read more about this here: http://semanticvoid.com/lifelogger/

  2. Well, Google History is quite a relief for me as it enables me to follow on Gordon Bell’s footsteps even without having much resources at my disposal.

    And I’m not quite so worried as my data is not trapped in Google. I have found out ways to extract data back from Google, which I intend to use for some research.

    Read more about this here: http://semanticvoid.com/lifelogger/

  3. Re: the baby industry — it can kick in earlier than birth if you buy or register something. So, if you sign up on any parenting sites, you’ll start getting some stuff. But yes, most companies wait until after they know the baby was born.

  4. Re: the baby industry — it can kick in earlier than birth if you buy or register something. So, if you sign up on any parenting sites, you’ll start getting some stuff. But yes, most companies wait until after they know the baby was born.

  5. Yep, I noticed that yesterday too and decided to stop Google from logging my search history by disabling the corresponding setting.

    Due to many security flaws on various Google domains it’s simply too easy for an attacker to read all that stuff. Scary indeed.

  6. Yep, I noticed that yesterday too and decided to stop Google from logging my search history by disabling the corresponding setting.

    Due to many security flaws on various Google domains it’s simply too easy for an attacker to read all that stuff. Scary indeed.

  7. I think Google history is absolutely fantastic. Often, when I am trying to revisit a site, I visited in the dim and distant past, I can recall the loose search terms I used to find it but not the exact URL.

    And, no, I don’t give two hoots if my wife can discover I searched for ‘elephant sex venues Stockholm free entry’ in May 2004 as she happens shares my offbeat interests. She is a 3 year old elephant, funnily enough.

  8. I think Google history is absolutely fantastic. Often, when I am trying to revisit a site, I visited in the dim and distant past, I can recall the loose search terms I used to find it but not the exact URL.

    And, no, I don’t give two hoots if my wife can discover I searched for ‘elephant sex venues Stockholm free entry’ in May 2004 as she happens shares my offbeat interests. She is a 3 year old elephant, funnily enough.

  9. Robert – Nail hit well and truly on the head!

    In my post here:

    …i too wondered where the hell any ads were.

    My searches prove to Google what I have been interested in several things which would be PURRRFECT for advertisers.

    Hell, Google may even be able to charge more for these ads because at least the history has some sort of evidence of search interest in it.

  10. Robert – Nail hit well and truly on the head!

    In my post here:

    …i too wondered where the hell any ads were.

    My searches prove to Google what I have been interested in several things which would be PURRRFECT for advertisers.

    Hell, Google may even be able to charge more for these ads because at least the history has some sort of evidence of search interest in it.

  11. Scoble said: “What do you think about Google History? Does it make you think differently of Google? Why?”

    Before that, Scoble said: “I *turned on* Google History.” [Emphasis is mine.]

    Therein lies the Google Difference. I’m almost always comfortable signing up for a new Google service because they tend to make a point of:

    - requiring explicit opt-in for any data storage service

    - allowing you to export your data from the Google and take it elsewhere (Reader, Gmail, etc.)

    - allowing you to remove your data (1) (Gmail, History, Browser Sync, etc.).

    Despite any imperfections in their removal implementation, the “remove my stuff” option is a welcome and comforting gesture on behalf of a company that could just as easily say “We’re building the best web services around at the moment, and people will use them whether we offer these options or not.” Same applies to the opt-in policy for services such as History.

    (1) I know, I know: Clicking the “remove” button doesn’t instantly purge your data from Google droids the world over–it might take time before it’s gone for good, or some remnant might linger someplace for eternity. No way around that. If you don’t like it, maybe try writing things down on paper and keeping them in a very large, armored box.

  12. Scoble said: “What do you think about Google History? Does it make you think differently of Google? Why?”

    Before that, Scoble said: “I *turned on* Google History.” [Emphasis is mine.]

    Therein lies the Google Difference. I’m almost always comfortable signing up for a new Google service because they tend to make a point of:

    - requiring explicit opt-in for any data storage service

    - allowing you to export your data from the Google and take it elsewhere (Reader, Gmail, etc.)

    - allowing you to remove your data (1) (Gmail, History, Browser Sync, etc.).

    Despite any imperfections in their removal implementation, the “remove my stuff” option is a welcome and comforting gesture on behalf of a company that could just as easily say “We’re building the best web services around at the moment, and people will use them whether we offer these options or not.” Same applies to the opt-in policy for services such as History.

    (1) I know, I know: Clicking the “remove” button doesn’t instantly purge your data from Google droids the world over–it might take time before it’s gone for good, or some remnant might linger someplace for eternity. No way around that. If you don’t like it, maybe try writing things down on paper and keeping them in a very large, armored box.

  13. Yeah, just give me access to that data for a week, and maybe five high power servers, and we’ll have one hell of a StatBot post.

  14. Google history is frightening but quite pleased with the personalized search results..

    About twitter, do you really think Twitter has the scale of users to really make an impact… it does make a good data source for getting trends though… but i think Google search trends or their zeitgeist is the better place to gather trends.. and they classify that with regions too..

  15. Google history is frightening but quite pleased with the personalized search results..

    About twitter, do you really think Twitter has the scale of users to really make an impact… it does make a good data source for getting trends though… but i think Google search trends or their zeitgeist is the better place to gather trends.. and they classify that with regions too..

  16. Colin, from acorns grow great big trees and twitter is one hell of an acorn!

    The ebiquity snapshot of 35k users online (at any one time rather than the total aggregate users I believe) is more than enough for anyone to seed something useful.

    An interesting relationship to establish would be how many twitter posts/topics end up as full blog-posts, meaning a more coherent and thorough message distribution.

  17. Colin, from acorns grow great big trees and twitter is one hell of an acorn!

    The ebiquity snapshot of 35k users online (at any one time rather than the total aggregate users I believe) is more than enough for anyone to seed something useful.

    An interesting relationship to establish would be how many twitter posts/topics end up as full blog-posts, meaning a more coherent and thorough message distribution.

  18. “If I were a marketer working at Procter and Gamble this is what I’d be studying.”

    Which explains why you are NOT a marketer at P&G

  19. “If I were a marketer working at Procter and Gamble this is what I’d be studying.”

    Which explains why you are NOT a marketer at P&G

  20. “Does it make you think differently of Google? Why?”

    No, why should it. They’ve been doing it anyway without the user seeing it. Now you see it which should be better. (It seems strange that this has been popping only over the last couple of days… I’ve been using it for weeks already… Was I an early beta, or am I one of th few routinely checking my setting options?)

    “That’s a bad move.”

    Isn’t it a good move? You really want more blog, email, twitter spam based on what you write? If you mention having ice cream, do you want ice cream ads by every venue imaginable over the internet? Doesn’t this show that Google isn’t taking all of your data and selling it to anyone for direct advertising?

  21. “Does it make you think differently of Google? Why?”

    No, why should it. They’ve been doing it anyway without the user seeing it. Now you see it which should be better. (It seems strange that this has been popping only over the last couple of days… I’ve been using it for weeks already… Was I an early beta, or am I one of th few routinely checking my setting options?)

    “That’s a bad move.”

    Isn’t it a good move? You really want more blog, email, twitter spam based on what you write? If you mention having ice cream, do you want ice cream ads by every venue imaginable over the internet? Doesn’t this show that Google isn’t taking all of your data and selling it to anyone for direct advertising?

  22. The tracking by itself won’t pose much of security issues. But things could be disastrous if this couples with some sort of security compromise.

  23. The tracking by itself won’t pose much of security issues. But things could be disastrous if this couples with some sort of security compromise.

  24. OpenDNS has hijacked my address bar!
    I use address bar search frequently (like, every other search that I do.). I have also setup my router to use OpenDNS. After their grand announcement, I was surprised (shocked?) to see that all my address bar searches are being taken over the OpenDNS ‘guide’. I didn’t consent to that. Yahoo is not my preferred search engine and I have no intention of using it.

    This is nothing but adware on the web. What they have done is basically taken over the address bar of all browsers (for those who have signed up to use OpenDNS). (I know it is DNS and it is supposed to do that, but there is a limit – I don’t want it to take over my searches too).

    At least, there is an easy solution to this – just switch back to my ISP’s DNS server.
    I did send them an email about it and I am waiting for their reply.

  25. OpenDNS has hijacked my address bar!
    I use address bar search frequently (like, every other search that I do.). I have also setup my router to use OpenDNS. After their grand announcement, I was surprised (shocked?) to see that all my address bar searches are being taken over the OpenDNS ‘guide’. I didn’t consent to that. Yahoo is not my preferred search engine and I have no intention of using it.

    This is nothing but adware on the web. What they have done is basically taken over the address bar of all browsers (for those who have signed up to use OpenDNS). (I know it is DNS and it is supposed to do that, but there is a limit – I don’t want it to take over my searches too).

    At least, there is an easy solution to this – just switch back to my ISP’s DNS server.
    I did send them an email about it and I am waiting for their reply.

  26. The only problem with personalization I’ve seen is when I decide to search for something different (which is when I would need “help” the most).

    I am an engineer and I do regular searches on scientific books, terms, etc. One day I decide to check out something new because I met this really interesting chick who studies poly sci. I would have a tough time finding the right links.

  27. The only problem with personalization I’ve seen is when I decide to search for something different (which is when I would need “help” the most).

    I am an engineer and I do regular searches on scientific books, terms, etc. One day I decide to check out something new because I met this really interesting chick who studies poly sci. I would have a tough time finding the right links.

  28. The hypocrisy in this thread is just incredible – would all of you who seem to have no problems with G History say the same if it were the M company or anyone else for that matter? This is like saying I shop at Seven Eleven everyday so I suppose it is ok to share my credit card details with them.

    I want to thank Scoble for atleast offering to take a position that while not necessarily critical of Google atleast makes us wary of it.

  29. The hypocrisy in this thread is just incredible – would all of you who seem to have no problems with G History say the same if it were the M company or anyone else for that matter? This is like saying I shop at Seven Eleven everyday so I suppose it is ok to share my credit card details with them.

    I want to thank Scoble for atleast offering to take a position that while not necessarily critical of Google atleast makes us wary of it.

  30. “would all of you who seem to have no problems with G History say the same if it were the M company or anyone else for that matter?”

    I wouldn’t give it to Microsoft, and yes, I would have no problem giving it to Yahoo.

    No hypocrisy here.

  31. “would all of you who seem to have no problems with G History say the same if it were the M company or anyone else for that matter?”

    I wouldn’t give it to Microsoft, and yes, I would have no problem giving it to Yahoo.

    No hypocrisy here.

  32. @vivek – what utter rubbish. Sure it’s your opinion, but if Microsoft produced the frequency and quality of tools that google do, I have no doubts that people would be happy to include it in the IE bar.

    Championing one cause doesn’t mean that there aren’t any other worthy causes.

  33. @vivek – what utter rubbish. Sure it’s your opinion, but if Microsoft produced the frequency and quality of tools that google do, I have no doubts that people would be happy to include it in the IE bar.

    Championing one cause doesn’t mean that there aren’t any other worthy causes.

  34. Hrrmph, since my nephews and my sister and various friends, all use my laptop at differing times, painting a profile of me, will be a missed shot, but serves as a good reminder to log outta gmail. I can only wonder what I must look like in the trend analysis, hahah. Spooky really, but I used real POP3 and others for important stuff anyways, but all that data collection, scary esp. if they pitch to the Feds and people believe the data.

  35. Hrrmph, since my nephews and my sister and various friends, all use my laptop at differing times, painting a profile of me, will be a missed shot, but serves as a good reminder to log outta gmail. I can only wonder what I must look like in the trend analysis, hahah. Spooky really, but I used real POP3 and others for important stuff anyways, but all that data collection, scary esp. if they pitch to the Feds and people believe the data.

  36. Why can’t google allow us to store our search data locally? or maybe at some other server (of our choosing).

  37. Why can’t google allow us to store our search data locally? or maybe at some other server (of our choosing).

  38. @Paul, actually it’s not rubbish. It’s a fair point. It was highly amusing to note how few people had a problem with the DoubleClick deal (suddenly DoubleClick “fits in better” with Googles culture…yes DoubleClick is now an admired company…ha!). And now this. It’s fascinating stuff, really.

    Anyway for me it’s simple. I don’t care which multi-billion dollar corporation it is. I value my online privacy.

  39. @Paul, actually it’s not rubbish. It’s a fair point. It was highly amusing to note how few people had a problem with the DoubleClick deal (suddenly DoubleClick “fits in better” with Googles culture…yes DoubleClick is now an admired company…ha!). And now this. It’s fascinating stuff, really.

    Anyway for me it’s simple. I don’t care which multi-billion dollar corporation it is. I value my online privacy.

  40. Why is Google the most powerful company on earth and does anyone truly understand that the browser, the OS, your records, your email, and your history are historical data that COULD be used to extrapolate your thoughts, behaviors, and short term and future behavioral patterns? However the search engine is the optimal, ubiquitous mind control mechanism without breaking the law or performing cross platform extrapolation of personal data and hirachial importance categorization. The only thing more acurate is a supercomputing center that has phone, fax, email, text messaging, home phone, cell phone, (voice to text)credit card info, all personal history, browser input, cell location on, search engine keywords, interpersaonal correlation and communication between the 10 people you contact the most, bodildy functions and their indicies, and an algorithym that knows how to crunch that data on the fly for 7B + people. After you have that then you need API’s for lack of a better adjective into influence mechanisms that can profit from or derive a specific output based upon the particular aggitator.

    On a closing note, your impressed you did not get a crib ad? Of course you didn’t. What to do with all that data? Predict terrorism, financial winfalls, …….nothing would be impossible. Simply food for thought.

    Regards,

    Rob

  41. Why is Google the most powerful company on earth and does anyone truly understand that the browser, the OS, your records, your email, and your history are historical data that COULD be used to extrapolate your thoughts, behaviors, and short term and future behavioral patterns? However the search engine is the optimal, ubiquitous mind control mechanism without breaking the law or performing cross platform extrapolation of personal data and hirachial importance categorization. The only thing more acurate is a supercomputing center that has phone, fax, email, text messaging, home phone, cell phone, (voice to text)credit card info, all personal history, browser input, cell location on, search engine keywords, interpersaonal correlation and communication between the 10 people you contact the most, bodildy functions and their indicies, and an algorithym that knows how to crunch that data on the fly for 7B + people. After you have that then you need API’s for lack of a better adjective into influence mechanisms that can profit from or derive a specific output based upon the particular aggitator.

    On a closing note, your impressed you did not get a crib ad? Of course you didn’t. What to do with all that data? Predict terrorism, financial winfalls, …….nothing would be impossible. Simply food for thought.

    Regards,

    Rob

  42. @Paul – What are you calling rubbish? The fact that some of us are so hypocritical about this whole deal or the analogy of Seven Eleven and Credit cards?

    What has that got to do with your comparison with good tools? I am not talking about the quality of tools that either company provides – I am talking about the philosophy of knowing something about you and putting it to commercial advantage (opt-ins not withstanding)

    Either way I value my privacy and putting it all in the hands of a corporate entity with profit motives is not for me.

    Just because it is Google doesnt mean they have a carte blanche.

  43. @Paul – What are you calling rubbish? The fact that some of us are so hypocritical about this whole deal or the analogy of Seven Eleven and Credit cards?

    What has that got to do with your comparison with good tools? I am not talking about the quality of tools that either company provides – I am talking about the philosophy of knowing something about you and putting it to commercial advantage (opt-ins not withstanding)

    Either way I value my privacy and putting it all in the hands of a corporate entity with profit motives is not for me.

    Just because it is Google doesnt mean they have a carte blanche.

  44. I have mixed feelings about Google Tracking. On one hand, I like the idea. Especially if I was in the middle of a search and was disrupted for one reason or another. I can go back to my history to see what variations of search I was on when. This has helped to resume my searches for various things.

    On the other hand – I am not fond of Google tracking every single thing under the sun. I am glad that I can turn it off and on as desired.

  45. I have mixed feelings about Google Tracking. On one hand, I like the idea. Especially if I was in the middle of a search and was disrupted for one reason or another. I can go back to my history to see what variations of search I was on when. This has helped to resume my searches for various things.

    On the other hand – I am not fond of Google tracking every single thing under the sun. I am glad that I can turn it off and on as desired.

  46. I think it is useful because I always try to get the search result i got but I always get the different one. The problem is everyone is concern about privacy, I don’t really care how google tracking my history, I just don’t want my boss to track my history haha….

  47. I think it is useful because I always try to get the search result i got but I always get the different one. The problem is everyone is concern about privacy, I don’t really care how google tracking my history, I just don’t want my boss to track my history haha….

  48. @ all those who value their privacy…do they think that Google don’t record their personal searches anyway? Where do they think the Zeitgeist comes from? Do the same people also think that PPC ads are an invasion of their browser space too?

  49. @ all those who value their privacy…do they think that Google don’t record their personal searches anyway? Where do they think the Zeitgeist comes from? Do the same people also think that PPC ads are an invasion of their browser space too?

  50. Its one thing to gather a bunch of information about individuals, quite another to act on this consolidated information individually.

    I once read an article written by a Costco executive. To paraphrase, she said “we know everything each one of our customers has ever bought and can cut the data a million ways. What do we do with it? Nothing. We call it ‘analysis paralysis’. All we do is put stuff on the shelves and see what inventory moves”.

  51. Its one thing to gather a bunch of information about individuals, quite another to act on this consolidated information individually.

    I once read an article written by a Costco executive. To paraphrase, she said “we know everything each one of our customers has ever bought and can cut the data a million ways. What do we do with it? Nothing. We call it ‘analysis paralysis’. All we do is put stuff on the shelves and see what inventory moves”.

  52. @Paul Fabretti – Google might be recording searches and it leaves us with little choice since that is the nature of their business and they have a monopoly position on search. That doesnt mean they have to collect everything else I do on the internet.

    PPC Ads? Didnt quite understand that.

  53. @Paul Fabretti – Google might be recording searches and it leaves us with little choice since that is the nature of their business and they have a monopoly position on search. That doesnt mean they have to collect everything else I do on the internet.

    PPC Ads? Didnt quite understand that.

  54. Anyone stupid enough to think that my search history tells anything legitimate about me (except that I like word games and find Google, and its codified version of public opinion, amusing) gets exactly what they deserve – gibberish.

    You can’t HIDE your real data, but you CAN bury it in bullshit.

  55. Anyone stupid enough to think that my search history tells anything legitimate about me (except that I like word games and find Google, and its codified version of public opinion, amusing) gets exactly what they deserve – gibberish.

    You can’t HIDE your real data, but you CAN bury it in bullshit.

  56. Mr. Barney Google, the fact you are here on this page says something about you. One could extrapolate much about you from your simple statement, the time, date, your chosen name, choice of vocabulary, and your third party, self-depicting, ancillary, lobbying effort. Google is a means to find the info (not really) but once found, one can read right through your patterns, and true intentions……. and merely listen to you tell us who you are!!

  57. Mr. Barney Google, the fact you are here on this page says something about you. One could extrapolate much about you from your simple statement, the time, date, your chosen name, choice of vocabulary, and your third party, self-depicting, ancillary, lobbying effort. Google is a means to find the info (not really) but once found, one can read right through your patterns, and true intentions……. and merely listen to you tell us who you are!!