Google: not evil, just stupid

Actually, I already have used hundreds of thousands of words to describe what kind of idiot I am, but Google is too dumb to get it.

Right now there is an uproar about Google merging data from its many different services. Evidently it has not done so before, for whatever reason. If so, it is a wonder the company has even survived.

I have used Google products since I first heard of the small upstart company some years ago, when Altavista and Hotbot were fighting over the search engine market. I have given Google as much information about me as I could, to the point of even indexing my hard disks with Google Desktop for years. (Unfortunately, that product is now discontinued. I really enjoyed it, since even I cannot remember all the thousands of journal entries I have written!)

Even though Google should know nearly everything about me, from the frequency of my shoe shopping to my darkest (and brightest) desires, their ads never indicated that this. No matter where I come upon Google ads, they are simple keyword association with the nearby text. That probably works well enough to allow them to get paid for showing the ads, and it did help me discover Project Meditation back when I was reading up on Holosync, so it has caused one purchase in all these years. That is not a very impressive record, though. Actually, it is right up there with a thousand monkeys with typewriters trying to make the next Shakespeare. Not exactly Intelligent Design.

People are worried that Google knows too much about them. I say it knows too little. It is a waste of their resources and my screen space to serve all these useless ads. Over the years it must be thousands and thousands of them, all useless except for one or two. (I think I clicked on another without actually buying anything, but I don’t remember which. It’s been a while.)

Let me just take the ads surrounding a recent e-mail discussing sci-fi books. The most visible add is for Mastercard Gold, no doubt derived from the mention of Orson Scott Card. *facepalm* Then we have an ad for luxury timeshares; I honestly have no idea where they pulled that out from, but anyone who knows me would correctly expect me to feel disgust at this.  Then unspecified good deals in Oslo, presumably because I have a Norwegian IP address – the text here is in Norwegian, as it is on several ads, even though 99.9+% of my writing is in English. Oslo is indeed the capital city of Norway, but that doesn’t mean I visit every year.  Onward to an ad about toilet solutions for cabins (like wood cabin, not planes). And this should interest me because? Not all writers live in a cabin, only highly trained professionals. ^_^ Then comes the first ad that is relevant to the context (“Instant Grammar Checker” – which, by the way, is an incomplete sentence). It is still not relevant to me. Next comes a purveyor of Russian books.

I don’t know about you, but it certainly does not look like Google knows anything about me at all, except what they can glean from the IP address and keywords in the nearby text. If they saved no data about me in their immense server cloud, the result would be exactly the same.

A human reading all the info Google has about me would know me better than their own family. But anyone can do that simply by reading the entire Chaos Node website, yet only one has done it (as far as I know).  And she has already forgotten most of it. ^_^  As have I, probably.

I would suggest the reason why people are so excited about the Google consolidation is that they think they are important. This is a very common delusion. But there are very few important people in the world, except to themselves and their loved ones (at best). If you plan to become a congressperson or above, and have dark secrets (which seems to be alarmingly common among such people), you may want to opt out now. For the rest of us, I think the chance of actually seeing a relevant ad once a year or more is worth it.

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