December 7, 2009

How Special! [11:43 am]

Google Opens Personalized Results to All

Personalized results were previously served only to users who were signed into their Google account and had opted in to let Google track their Web History, or log of search queries and results. Going forward, personalized results will be offered to users whether they are signed in or not. Users must also now opt out of personalized results.

This is how it works. Google will continue to use Web History to personalize results for users who are signed in. Even when users are not signed in, Google will customize their search results based on past search information linked to a user’s computer Web browser using an anonymous cookie. Google stores up to 180 days of signed-out search activity linked to the browser’s cookie, including queries and results that are clicked.

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Informing or Obscuring? [8:55 am]

And how would you know? Government Offers Data to Miners (pdf)

Many local governments are figuring out how to use the Internet to make government data more accessible. The goal is to spawn useful Web sites and mobile applications — and perhaps even have people think differently about their city and its government.

“It will change the way citizens and government interact, but perhaps most important, it’s going to change the way elected officials and civil servants deliver programs, services and promises,” said Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, which is one of the cities leading the way in releasing government data to Web developers. “I can’t wait until it challenges and infuriates the bureaucracy.”

Maybe, but there’s the “bad money drives out good money” problem. When free, but cherry picked, data swamps the channel, what will be the value of the information derived?

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