Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My pushing back against our diffusion into “the cloud”

My son visits over the new year's holiday every year, which gives me the chance to have a "techie" conference with him to see what I've been missing. One of the web applications he mentioned lead me to Ghostery, a web app that installs on your web browser with a cute little pac-man like ghost that shows you who is tracking your web movements and what cookies have been put on your browser (I was rather taken aback to see that I'm tracked by 759 'bugs' and have 412 cookies). The Ghostery App allows you to inactivate them individually or as a group. Even though most of the monitoring of our movements on the web is supposedly for benign marketing purposes, I'm more than happy to turn it all off.

A storm of controversy has risen over Google recent effort to conflate supposedly neutral web searches with its Google Plus social network, so that a search for information on some idea or item might now yield results that include posts, photos, profiles and conversations from Google Plus that are public or were shared privately with the person searching. I go to google for Google for links to expert information, and don't want my search results to be cluttered with friends’ postings. Since I use google for practically everything I do on the web (this blog, mail, calendar, contacts, google+, google voice, etc.), this cross linking of my search results and my google+ account is in fact happening. Fortunately, you can turn off this google+ feature by going to the gear-shaped options icon at the top right of google search results, selecting "Search settings," scrolling down till you see "Personal results" and tick the box next to "Do not use personal results."

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