Google collects data. A lot of it.
October 4, 2011 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Google and its massive knowledge feedback loop.
posted by Weebot (63 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
dKnowledge/dT = G*Knowledge

Where G is the availability factor.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:08 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Google knows or has sought to know, and may increasingly seek to know, your credit card numbers, your purchasing history, your date of birth, your medical history, your reading habits, your taste in music, your interest or otherwise (thanks to your searching habits) in the First Intifada or the career of Audrey Hepburn or flights to Mexico or interest-free loans, or whatever you idly speculate about at 3.45 on a Wednesday afternoon.

If it were a lover, it would know exactly how to get me off.

I Instapapered this hard. Great find.
posted by Trurl at 6:14 PM on October 4, 2011


new iphone
chris cooley

apple iphone
apple stock curtis painter
herman caingirl fight
van jones
ios 5 release date
ipod nano watch
cole hamWHO AM I?
posted by Not Supplied at 6:25 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


This spring, the billionaire Eric Schmidt announced that there were only four really significant technology companies: Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, the company he had until recently been running.
The interesting thing is, they're not really technology companies in the way we think of them, they're media companies, or interactive media companies or moving in that direction, with apple being the most 'traditional' technology company of the four. Technology is a critical part of what they do, since they use technology to deliver their media. But they don't sell technology itself, but rather experiences.

Apple is moving in more and more of that direction, they sell devices that you can use to view media people buy through their stores. They're basically in the same business Nintendo used to be in, acting as a gatekeeper and middleman to software and now non-interactive (books/magazine) companies. Amazon is more clearly the traditional media company. But what's interesting about them is all their EC2 Service. Amazon has become one of the largest hosting providers out there, and and their system can be incredibly cheap to use (literally pennies to test it out)

Facebook is just a website you visit. Totally media only for now. From a 'technology' standpoint they are pretty boring.

Google is a little more interesting. They're just a website you visit as well, but google docs might be considered more 'technology' then media. The interesting thing though is their search technology which gets more advanced as time goes on. Google is probably at the forfront of anything that might be considered 'AI' at this point, so from a technology standpoint I find them the most interesting.
posted by delmoi at 6:27 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


If it were a lover, it would know exactly how to get me off.
Oh, it knows...
posted by delmoi at 6:30 PM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


GOOGLE! POINT THE MICROPHONE AWAY FROM THE SPEAKER!
posted by mkb at 6:33 PM on October 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


The interesting thing though is their search technology which gets more advanced as time goes on.

That wouldn't surprise me. But has that been demonstrated with Science! ? Or is it just a consensus of public opinion that the results are better than, say, 5 years ago?
posted by Trurl at 6:35 PM on October 4, 2011


The really interesting thing to me about those four companies is that two of them (Apple and Facebook) I avoid like the plague while the other two (Amazon and Google) I used to like and now avoid like a bad headcold.

Not sure I'd call them media companies in "the same business as Nintendo" though. At least 3 of them and a large chunk of the 4th are in the business of selling YOU. Nintendo was never about selling ads and privacy invasion.
posted by DU at 6:39 PM on October 4, 2011


I got asked today what I thought of Amazon's new Fire reader. I noted that it was hard to tell until any of us could use one, but it looked like a very useful device, though the Silk browser concerned me. It doesn't seem sensible to buy things from a place you've already told so much about yourself. To prevent victimization in a market, it's wise to keep some things to yourself.

I often think the same about Google. I've long been publicly critical about the kind of data collection Google does. Does that affect my results? It doesn't really affect my love of their service and it's integration into many tools.

On the other hand, if they can keep evil at bay, what they do could advance human knowledge much farther than any other organization I'm aware of. If.

Of these, I recommend Siva's book. Few have given as much thought about the threat and potential of Google than he has.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:44 PM on October 4, 2011


If it were a lover, it would know exactly how to get me off.

Introducing GMale
posted by yellowbinder at 6:48 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I, for one, [will] welcome our new robot overlords.
posted by TomStampy at 6:53 PM on October 4, 2011


Or is it just a consensus of public opinion that the results are better than, say, 5 years ago?

Nevermind five years, locationally-specific search algorithms were added much less than that long ago, and are pretty obvious... if i search for "burger" about 1/2 the results on the first page are burger joints in the city I am in.
posted by mek at 7:00 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


If it were a lover, it would know exactly how to get me off.

Trurl, you just made me imagine having sex with a search engine, and I kind of hate you for it. I know Rule 34 applies to everything, but does it have to apply to everything?
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:07 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just finished In The Plex last week. One thing that stuck with me from the book is that Google is intent on mining what you do to figure out what to sell you. Facebook wants to mine who you know and what they do to sell you. Facebook's vision just seems creepier, although I don't know that Google is really any better for us from a privacy standpoint.

FWIW, over the last month I've been using Duck Duck Go as my default search engine. I don't really miss Google at all. I've also transitioned my email back to my web hosting account, although I'm still using Gmail some too. When I want to share photos now I do so on my blog, not PicasaWeb. I don't think we can avoid giving up a lot of privacy online, but I'm trying to spread the data around a bit so that it's not all at Google.
posted by COD at 7:07 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


they're not really technology companies in the way we think of them

Google designs everything in-house, except for chips and hard disks. There is a lot of electrical engineering and mechanical engineering happening at Google. Google has more engineering breadth than Apple, Amazon, and Facebook combined.
posted by ryanrs at 7:11 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I use Google for mail and RSS, Bing for search, Facebook for keeping in touch with casual acquaintances and Amazon to buy stuff. I like to think that -- by diversifying like this -- I prevent any one of these companies from learning too much about me. But I worry that instead, they all know everything.
posted by Slothrup at 7:22 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


In In The Plex, Google claims to be the largest computer manufacturer in the world. They just don't sell them.
posted by COD at 7:23 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


That wouldn't surprise me. But has that been demonstrated with Science! ? Or is it just a consensus of public opinion that the results are better than, say, 5 years ago?
Well, that's iffy. The big problem is the amount of spam and crap. You go back ten years, and the search results were probably better simply because they weren't being gamed to the same extent. I do think they've gotten better at filtering Spam over the last few years, but I'm not really sure.
Google designs everything in-house, except for chips and hard disks. There is a lot of electrical engineering and mechanical engineering happening at Google. Google has more engineering breadth than Apple, Amazon, and Facebook combined.
Well, Apple does design chips. But what's interesting is that apple is very much a 'traditional' tech company but what they've done is refined the 'traditional PC' design down to things like the iPhone and iPad (which, remember, run a modified version of OSX). Google just does software, as far as we know.

But we don't really know how much of a hand they have in designing the hardware their software runs on. The motherboards they used in the past were highly customized, who knows where they are now. Is it possible they're using ARM now on their mapreduce nodes to save power? Who knows? While Apple sells stuff you can feel, you really have no idea what the physical hardware that runs your queries is actually like.

I mean ultimately it's all semantics what you define as 'technology', much less a 'technology company'. Back in the day traditional media companies came up with technology all the time, better broadcasting technology and stuff like that. It was all behind the scenes and transparent to the user, just like Facebook and Google are today.

And then you have Amazon which is most unquestionably a 'traditional' media company while at the same time they have their Amazon Web Services like EC2 which is actually the most 'pure' technology product offered by any of them. Out of the box it does absolutely nothing and you can make it do anything you want so long as you pay for the bandwidth.

The other interesting thing about EC2 is that they essentially get subsidized infrastructure development and testing. Rather then needing to upgrade all their hardware for a new product launch (like silk, for example, which is going to require a ton of server side stuff) they build out and then resell the hardware at a profit. When they have a new product, they already have the tech online and the knowhow to scale even further.

So at least from my perspective Amazon actually seems like the most innovative in terms of what they actually sell to customers. But it's not for non-technical people at all (unfortunately)
posted by delmoi at 7:25 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've logged more than 11,000 searches over the last 5 years.

I just don't see how Google can keep letting me make thousands of searches a year without making more money off of me than they do now.
posted by jamjam at 7:32 PM on October 4, 2011


The "it knows" factor may be good linkbait, but Google is hardly monolithic. It's not like the data in your docs and spreadsheets are mined. Yes, Gmail scans your mail to put up ads, but it's per instance data, not historical. AFAIK, the search history is the only data maintained over time like that but there's no cross-referencing with, for example, your calendar data.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:43 PM on October 4, 2011


When I Google "Google and its massive knowledge feedback loop" I get this thread. Creepy.
posted by googly at 7:48 PM on October 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Ironically, when I Google that I get the #OccupySesameStreet post.
posted by Weebot at 7:51 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


you really have no idea what the physical hardware that runs your queries is actually like

Well, I do, since I used to work there. I don't think it's any secret that Google uses x86 processors in its servers.
posted by ryanrs at 8:00 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


My personal experience has been that while Google has been adding features and domain-specific search optimizations aggressively, they're currently losing ground against black-hat SEO, and it's doing serious harm to their general search quality.

These days, it seems like any search I do that could be possibly interpreted as related to a commerical product returns results that are half spam, and even doing searches for technical issues of little interest to the general public gets me a ton of hits for link farms and sites that thow up shoddy copies of public mailing lists and documentation in order to sell ads.

On second thought, maybe it's the Internet that's gotten worse, not Google.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:01 PM on October 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's not like the data in your docs and spreadsheets are mined. Yes, Gmail scans your mail to put up ads, but it's per instance data, not historical. AFAIK, the search history is the only data maintained over time like that but there's no cross-referencing with, for example, your calendar data.

You don't need to store the search index for the docs and spreadsheets, just the algorithm to do the searching. I find it highly unlikely that this data is not being mined. Perhaps the googlers can comment?
posted by kuatto at 8:01 PM on October 4, 2011


Googlers cannot comment, sorry.
posted by ryanrs at 8:06 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ironically, when I Google that I get the #OccupySesameStreet post.

Grover is watching you...
posted by jrochest at 8:12 PM on October 4, 2011


My personal experience has been that while Google has been adding features and domain-specific search optimizations aggressively, they're currently losing ground against black-hat SEO, and it's doing serious harm to their general search quality.

I think the spammy, black-hat stuff is affecting results for things like downloadable virus software, but only for common search terms, rather than "long tail" keywords. Local search is just starting to take off.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:13 PM on October 4, 2011


Googlers cannot comment, sorry.

Perhaps that is just as well.
posted by kuatto at 8:18 PM on October 4, 2011


I'm starting to think that someone around here works for duck duck go
posted by spicynuts at 8:48 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine passed me a link to the Scroogle search anonymiser the other day, and I've been using it since. It seems to work fine about 95% of the time (the other 5% of the time I'm looking for an instant answer to an arithmetic question -- guess Google spoiled me with those!) All the search results of Google with none of the tracking.

I still use Gmail, and am definitely spoiled by how easily I can switch identities and search my mail... but if Google doesn't make a u-turn soon I can't see myself using it in another year or two. Their response to the nym wars was disappointing and scary.
posted by vorfeed at 8:54 PM on October 4, 2011


Google designs everything in-house, except for chips and hard disks. There is a lot of electrical engineering and mechanical engineering happening at Google. Google has more engineering breadth than Apple, Amazon, and Facebook combined.

This is really interesting. Starting in the late 80s, and all through the 90s, companies were outsourcing everything. Specializing to ridiculous extents. Business groups getting better prices on certain things from competitors than from other Business groups within their home company. Along comes Google... I mean, I've herd horrible things about the Google approach to hiring--quizzes and absurd focus on academic results and so fourth--but at the same time I have huge respect for an organization that just knows that it can accomplish whatever it needs better by doing it themselves.

You don't need to store the search index for the docs and spreadsheets, just the algorithm to do the searching. I find it highly unlikely that this data is not being mined. Perhaps the googlers can comment?
Googlers cannot comment, sorry.


Which clearly means that Google is mining absolutely everything they have, only limited by their technical capabilities.
posted by Chuckles at 9:53 PM on October 4, 2011


How Google Dominates Us -- James Gleick's perspective from the NYRB a couple of months ago.
posted by trip and a half at 10:23 PM on October 4, 2011


yeah it would be absurd if they weren't using every mining every piece of available information, they obviously have a fetish.
posted by Shit Parade at 10:58 PM on October 4, 2011


I just closed my G+ account yesterday. I completely disagree w/their nym stance, and seeing some of the comments regarding Profiles/Plus being the core of their future, well... I decided I want to move away.

Which sucks, because until all this ... I really liked and defended Google.

One of you guys said in a different thread "If you're not paying for something, then you're the product" Which I knew but... I guess in the end, it always comes down to "be evil".

So I'm thinking of moving away from blogger to self-hosting wordpress, and I guess I'll stick w/gmail for now, though, because I still don't see any better alternative. I may have to go back to bloglines. Would be nice if there was another feedreader service that wasn't bloated "newsvine" type shit.
posted by symbioid at 11:49 PM on October 4, 2011


GOOG-411: You dialled 1-800-4664-411 and spoke your question to the robot operator, which parsed it and spoke you back the top eight results, while offering to connect your call. It was free, nifty and widely used, especially because – unprecedentedly for a company that had never spent much on marketing – Google chose to promote it on billboards across California and New York State. People thought it was weird that Google was paying to advertise a product it couldn’t possibly make money from, but by then Google had become known for doing weird and pleasing things.

What was it getting with GOOG-411? It soon became clear that what it was getting were demands for pizza spoken in every accent in the continental United States, along with questions about plumbers in Detroit and countless variations on the pronunciations of ‘Schenectady’, ‘Okefenokee’ and ‘Boca Raton’. GOOG-411, a Google researcher later wrote, was a phoneme-gathering operation, a way of improving voice recognition technology through massive data collection.


That's not evil, per se, but it makes me feel like I'm living in the Culture, interacting with a Mind.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:29 AM on October 5, 2011 [18 favorites]


Google knows or has sought to know, and may increasingly seek to know, your credit card numbers, your purchasing history, your date of birth, your medical history, your reading habits, your taste in music

Remember when GMail started asking for another backup address email in case you got hacked and lost access?

I answered in the negative for months, but finally relented. Half because I thought, "yeah it would be pretty bad to lose access to my main addy" and half because the farnarkling message kept on popping up and it wore me down.

Now GMail wants my farnarkling mobile phone number?! Y'know, "just in case." No. Bloody. Way. José.

And you have to look around for the rather small skip this step link to login to your account.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:59 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just don't see how Google can keep letting me make thousands of searches a year without making more money off of me than they do now.
They make a lot of money of search ads. At some point I calculated that, if my queries were average queries Google would have made about $800 on me last year. Of course, I kind of have ad-block, so that figure was probably more like zero for search. I do have an android phone (so Google got royalties Google maps) and I used Google checkout a couple of times. So they're making a little off me.
posted by delmoi at 2:40 AM on October 5, 2011


Here's the thing. I am an unreconstructed Google fan. I use GMail for my mail, Google Reader as my RSS aggregator, Google search as, well, my search engine, iGoogle as my homepage, Google Maps as my navigator, Google Docs as my document repository, Chrome (mostly) to browse the Web, Google calendar as my calendar; my personal phone, as opposed to my work phone, runs Android, and, well, you get the picture. Of course I am now using Google Plus. Google no doubt knows more about me and my Internet habits than I do. Yet I don't feel like a commodity or a product, or that I am somehow being taken advantage of. I love what Google does for me for no (monetary) cost.

I am old enough to remember that my first computer was a TRS-80 clone. Lord, I even used Web Explorer on OS/2 in the mid 1990's. I don't see myself as a noob, or as naïve or uninformed. But to judge by some of the comments in this thread, apparently, I am somehow at risk, or an at best an unwitting victim of an informational monster. This apparent disconnect fascinates me. Is Google so bad? Should I really use Bing as my search engine because it is not a Google service? Should I eschew what Google provides simply because it is Google?

Bottom line is that despite what I read, I see no reason to desist from taking full advantage of what Google offers.
posted by vac2003 at 3:02 AM on October 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Google is probably at the forfront of anything that might be considered 'AI' at this point, so from a technology standpoint I find them the most interesting.

And most concerning, from a sheer control standpoint.

Consider the "AI" today, and how it gives you the results it thinks you really wanted, rather than the results you actually asked for. It already assumes you are mistaken. It's already an arrogant asshole. I shudder to think what that asshole AI will be like when it grows up.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:30 AM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I recall hearing that it costs google something like $0.0005/search. So 10,000 searches would be $5. If you clicked on ads for just 0.1% of those searches (10), then Google only needs to make $0.50/click to break even.
posted by humanfont at 5:50 AM on October 5, 2011


I think you're out on your estimate of search costs by several orders of magnitude humanfont.
posted by pharm at 6:23 AM on October 5, 2011


Now GMail wants my farnarkling mobile phone number?! Y'know, "just in case." No. Bloody. Way. José.

To respond to my own post: but GMail probably knows it anyway. I've emailed my phone number to a few people. I'm sure their data mining algorithms snapped it right up!

>But to judge by some of the comments in this thread, apparently, I am somehow at risk, or an at best an unwitting victim of an informational monster. This apparent disconnect fascinates me. Is Google so bad?

Yeah, a lot of this, too. Yes, I've done naughty things via GMail. Organised buying an ounce of pot with some buddies. Sent some porn. Forwarded very tasteless pictures.

But I'm a nobody Joe Sixpack of meagre means who's not planning to run for Prime Minister of Australia any time soon. So I try and take the tin foil hat off every now and then and remind myself that there's a Brazillion more bigger fish to fry if GMail one day gets the Wikileaks treatment.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:28 AM on October 5, 2011


But I'm a nobody Joe Sixpack of meagre means who's not planning to run for Prime Minister of Australia any time soon.

And, thanks to the sheer amount of personal data held (and sold) by Google, you probably never will be. Political aspirations aside, consider what a hypothetical future employer's HR department might pay for a continuing subscription to mine Google's data trove of personal information?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:44 AM on October 5, 2011


consider what a hypothetical future employer's HR department might pay for a continuing subscription to mine Google's data trove of personal information

Isee it more like the collapse of Stasi, under the weight of too much information. If you can see everything everybody does, then who the hell cares that you looked at gayanalsexfurries.net, or the recipe for methamphetamine? Everybody is doing shit like that, and your darkest secret isn't all that special or unique. Your HR department wouldn't be able to hire anybody... if you aren't on file for looking at wankwithdeadnuns.net or on the mailing list for marijuanabyemail, then you must be hiding something and that looks even more suspicious.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:00 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Crikey!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:02 AM on October 5, 2011


And to add to Meatbomb's scenario: "who watches the watchers?" Surely that has to come into play somewhere along the line?

Paraphrase of a sci fi[?] quote I read somewhere along the way.

As an aside, who here is enjoying the recent era of first-world police forces getting a microscope poked directly into their collective asses? Both citizen video journalism, and all-powerful Anti Corruption squads [eg. putting bugs in peoples' lounge rooms] dumping five years of surveillance on the table at once.

You know, you have a very big mouth, sir. Are you hiding something from me? Is that what you're doing? I bet you that is your Porsche that's parked outside, isn't it? Isn't that your Porsche? Is it? How would you like me to have the IRS come down here and crawl up your fackin' ass with a microscope? Coz they'll do it! I've seen them do it! It's not a pretty sight!!

posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:20 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The interesting thing is, they're not really technology companies in the way we think of them, they're media companies...

I don't really see this. Google and Facebook are primarily advertising companies, Apple is primarily a hardware company and Amazon is primarily a retailer and logistics company. They're all getting into media and entertainment, but I think this is primarily because media and entertainment are losing value rapidly and the companies that provide them are getting weaker and weaker. I don't think any of these companies could possibly want to move away from their current business to become a record label or a publisher. More likely, they all see the weakness of media as an opportunity to differentiate their products at a bargain price.
posted by snofoam at 7:23 AM on October 5, 2011


You know, as much as I am a privacy freak, I am fine with them using my data as part of the aggregate. I assume, for example, that all the GReader stuff is being mined to help with figuring out relevant blogs and sites. I am not narcissistic enough to assume that my tastes as an individual matter BUT my feeds and links taken part of a larger group, well there is some value in that.

I use G services a great deal and the integration of the various API to other apps for ipad/iphone; desktop et al. means I will keep using it.

We live in a time of constant exposure and revelation but really, the more I delve into the data cloud that surrounds a person the more I strangely feel that I do not know them in their deepest parts because, like I, it becomes persona. We have become more sophisticated in creating data bits of irrelevance e.g., a tweet about mac and cheese but the true workings? I am not so sure. But I am old, my lawn is large and there seem to be a lot of squatters.
posted by jadepearl at 7:29 AM on October 5, 2011


Oh, also, one could look at the tech companies that are trying to be media companies (AOL, Yahoo!) and see how awesome they are doing. The decline of traditional media companies theoretically opens up an opportunity to move into that area, but only if someone figures out how to get around the root cause of the decline.
posted by snofoam at 7:31 AM on October 5, 2011


Everyone knows that data does not mean knowledge, right? I mean, the data is god. Aggregates are fun, and are the raw material for intelligence. But without intelligence, those data are just information.

We need as many eyes on that data as possible, turning it into intelligence, before Googlization becomes useful to us all (and not just eyeball commodity for Google itself.)
posted by clvrmnky at 7:38 AM on October 5, 2011


I understand the fear in an abstract sense that Google somehow will know too much and it will be too late to stop them, but on a practical level, I don't have a problem with them. I mean, are they going to get so good at advertising that I won't be able to stop myself from buying what they suggest?
posted by snofoam at 7:42 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


snofoam, In a word, yes. However the real issue is one of social control. For instance, YouTube videos had a measurable effect on the 2008 elections. How much is that worth to a candidate, to a corporation? The idea is marketing old-hat but with a new spin, if the right message goes out at the right time the mass of humanity is pushed accordingly. Now we have a situation where the 'right message' is tailored for you personally. Perhaps it's not even a traditional advertisement, perhaps it's just seeing the right video at the right time or having the appropriate interaction on facebook. Advertising and public relations have a huge impact on the political process, and thanks to google (and their ilk) we are about to take that to the next level.

clvrmnky: We need as many eyes on that data as possible, turning it into intelligence, before Googlization becomes useful to us all (and not just eyeball commodity for Google itself.)

I'm not sure what your argument is here. The eyeballs of the entire wold are staring at their computer screens.
posted by kuatto at 8:08 AM on October 5, 2011


I just want to choose. I hate having Facebook intrusively offer to tell all my fb buddies that I like a site; sites push it because they want traffic, and I hate it being in my face. Maybe some people want their lives published; fine by me, but I don't. I noticed the youtube connection. As google acquires more of the web, I guess I'll have to keep gmail separate from the rest of my browsing; it's one of the few places where I usually stay logged in. and here, of course.
posted by theora55 at 8:38 AM on October 5, 2011


That's not evil, per se

I'm not sure how that's evil, for any definition of the word evil. (Other than getting people used to the great service, and then canning it when they had enough data.)
posted by inigo2 at 9:29 AM on October 5, 2011


It seems to me like the main problems people have are that Googles data collection is an invasion of privacy, and/or that it has the potential to do evil things with it, like sell it to potential employers or use it to manipulate politics. I understand these things and I think it is healthy to be wary of them.

For me, I guess I still find what they offer useful and I don't feel like they've crossed a line that freaks me out, at least not yet or not that I know of. Also, to me it seems like the future evil scenario kind of depends on them remaining dominant or at least powerful in the data collection game. For now it seems pretty likely, but in the long run, most companies eventually lose influence as new ones come up.

I guess I fear them as much as I fear any major corporation, but not necessarily more just because of what they do.
posted by snofoam at 10:08 AM on October 5, 2011


You know, I was expecting something closer to this Google Tech Talk, which describes in detail how simple models with Google scale data does better jobs at natural language than more complicated systems which they term "data starved". If you're interested in what google researchers are claiming to do with the data in public, it's a nice series of short talks.

For example they have a nice slidedeck of how to train components of the system by deliberately crippling one half of it and training the other half to compensate, and then training the other half, and then the other...
posted by pwnguin at 11:14 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


>Bottom line is that despite what I read, I see no reason to desist from taking full advantage of what Google offers.

Are there any viable alternatives to Google products? I switched from google search to duckduckgo, but how can I replace Gmail or Google Reader, without loosing too much of usability\perfomance?
posted by usertm at 12:45 PM on October 5, 2011


The new improved Yahoo Mail really isn't that bad.
posted by COD at 2:48 PM on October 5, 2011


GOOG 411: I'm not sure how that's evil, for any definition of the word evil.

I don't think it's evil either, but there is something ever so slightly sinister about providing a loss-leader service in order to secretly gather information unrelated to the stated purpose of that service.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:38 PM on October 5, 2011


secretly gather information unrelated to the stated purpose of that service.

I thought it was general knowledge that they were using it to fine-tune their voice recognition. But even besides that, I don't see it as "gathering information" so much as improving a service. But, we can agree to disagree. I think I only responded b/c I miss the service...sigh.
posted by inigo2 at 4:58 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is called predictive consumption, collecting information provided by us (quiz games, farmville, profiles) to better assist targeting sellers products, for example Mafia Wars establishes user patterns that are collected for use in marketing...it may be intrusive but it's brilliant!
posted by Thompson Sullivan at 9:15 AM on October 6, 2011


It is called predictive consumption, collecting information provided by us (quiz games, farmville, profiles) to better assist targeting sellers products, for example Mafia Wars establishes user patterns that are collected for use in marketing...it may be intrusive but it's brilliant!

For most of google's products, I agree. But in this specific case, I don't think that's what they were doing. They were just using people's voices to improve their voice recognition software. I guess you could say that eventually this will improve voice searches, but it's a bit of a stretch for me.
posted by inigo2 at 9:38 AM on October 6, 2011


« Older East Village photographer and all-around good guy ...  |  The Best of #OccupySesameStree... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments