As I digest my notes from SMX East (and there are LOTS of notes), there is one point that I keep coming back to: personalized search. What this means in a technical sense is that Google, Bing and other search engines are tailoring results to you based on quite a few signals: previous queries, other websites you’ve visited, location and time. It sounds like a great idea and in many ways, it is.
If, for example, you are in the New York City and you do a search for [Italian restuarants], Google is likely to return Italian restaurants nearby. This makes sense. It’s unlikely that you are looking for the definition of an Italian restaurant or the history of Italian restaurants in the United States.
Problems arise when search engine algorithms hide information from you that you want to see. For example, if you tend to read liberal websites but want un-biased information come election season, will Google provide more liberal websites based on your previous search history? Because they will never reveal the secrets behind their algorithm, we may never know. As Eli Pariser notes in his TED talk below, search engines have become curators of the web. He believes (and so do I) that the information they provide should not only be relevant and helpful, but challenging, controversial and sometimes uncomfortable. As social media continues to grow in leaps and bounds, many internet experts believe that internet users are actually in control of the web. But is that really true if a math equation blocking one of the main portals of information?
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