“We don’t know enough about you”

23 May ’07

An interesting quote from Google CEO Eric Schmidt in the context of Google’s plans to fuel its personalization technology by amassing wide and deep data on each of us. It was not that long ago that such plans scared the bejeezus out of us – Doubleclick was practically run out of town on a rail for similar ambitions less than ten years ago.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob Hyndman May 25, 2007 at 16:25

Well, I agree, Bruce. Google is collecting a lot more info than Doubleclick ever was. (!) Obviously, in both cases the bargain is to receive services. And both bury their consents to data collection deep in terms of use. In Doubleclick’s case, more relevant ads. Ads for Google too, and more.

But my point wasn’t the detail. My point was that collection on this scale is becoming part of the cultural background to our use of the net. What was once a surprise is now quite ordinary.

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Bruce May 24, 2007 at 08:35

To compare what Google is discussing to what got Doubleclick tried to do misses pretty much all of the details.

First, Google is collecting information to provide services to the users. It requires the cooperation and consent of the user to participate in their various services. Doubleclick’s data came from embedded cookies that people picked up visiting other websites.

Second, Google has a good track record of developing new, innovative services that help users. Doubleclick never did any of this. Their sole purpose was to use whatever data they could collect to sell advertising.

I sometimes get concerned that Google’s vision on things like this can be a little too grand, and I’m not inclined to get too tied into their services (although, use search, gmail, gtalk and maps regularly). I think they need to be very careful about how they handle this to avoid ruining the trust they’ve built.

But, I want nothing to do with Doubleclick and its ilk. (The good news is that these days, unlike when Doubleclick ran into the issue, it is relatively easy to block/ remove the cookies the advertising firms use.)

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