When Google +1 was announced recently, I was a little concerned. I may have momentarily furrowed my brow, before moving onto the next piece of internet news.
I wasn’t quite sure why Google +1 worried me, but I continued to gnaw over it for a few months.
This is how Google describes this search innovation: “Sometimes it’s easier to find exactly what you’re looking for when someone you know already found it. Get recommendations for the things that interest you, right when you want them, in your search results”.
Today, I decided do some more research and write this piece. And I was glad to see I’m not alone.
The idea of +1 disturbs me in the same way that I’m disturbed that so many of us don’t work past the first page of Google search results. Because the question is: what are we missing? When an online tool presumes to know what information we’re looking for (and to know our searches even better than we know them ourselves), how can we be sure all our information choices are fair and open?
I suspect I’m not being very clear. So happily for me (and you, dear reader), there are many more clever people out there who have already written about this vexing issue:
“ … according to Eli Pariser, personalisation on the web is becoming so pervasive that we may not even know what we’re missing: the views and voices that challenge our own thinking” – New York Times
That’s exactly what has been furrowing my brow.
And also: “… it is already way too easy for someone to spend their entire day surrounded with information they favor, and never hear a contrary voice” – Between The Numbers.
I don’t want Google to become so super helpful, that outside views or contrasting sites, authors and opinions are hidden away from me. I imagine my sons studying for a school paper, and finding that during web searches the past searches of their friends influences what they find, thanks to +1. Scary.
Now, like any successful, competitive global company, Google is always in search (no pun intended) of improvement and growth. Google wants to serve its customers better. It’s always been fantastic at giving us exactly what we want and strives to improve the user experience.
But did we really need +1? What do you think?