Giving up google

August 30, 2006 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

The title to this post is probably a bit hyperbolic in the sense that I still use Google for many services, including search on occassion. But a number of things have begun to bother me about Google. Firstly, I’m finding that search results are becoming less and less relevant. For instance, this morning, I had to search for a printer driver for an “hp 2280TN” printer. I put in my query as “hp 2280TN driver” and HP’s web site didn’t even appear in the first 10 results. That’s shocking! Fortunately, the page I was looking for was the third link down in Yahoo’s search.

The concept of “googling” for something (and I am aware of Google’s antagonism to such a term), is quickly becoming synonomous with “searching the web and finding things that you weren’t looking for”. Often interesting things, but generally time-wasting. And so, for my online searching, I am finding myself turning to Google less frequently.

But there are other worrying things tied up with Google. My last post was all about gathering web statistics. One thing that I mentioned was how logging into services online help webmasters gather information about what specific users do. As Google provides more commonly used services such as GMail, and now Google Checkout, more people are voluntarily giving up their personal information to Google. Of course, once you login to one service, Google search can then track individual search queries that you make and tie them directly to you. And once they have that information, there is no way for you to delete it.

That might not be so worrying to some people. And arguments about privacy are all quite tired now. We’ve all heard about this sort of stuff in the media a lot lately. And I’m not about to turn this space into my own little political forum. However, a friend sent me this article this morning, and I thought it deserved mention. Not least because it pointed me on to Ixquick, which is a search engine aggregator. Now I’ve seen a lot of these since the search engine wars started, and there are plenty of these that are much more established. Dogpile is another. However, Ixquick promises to delete all personal search detail gleaned from its users from the log files within 24 hours. The other key point about Ixquick is that it returns relevant information. My HP 2280TN search returned HP’s own website as the top result of my search. Now that’s what I need to see.

So, next time you’re about to do a search, try another search engine. Get a second opinion. You may be surprised that Google is not all its cracked up to be.

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