Looking at Things Through Geeky Eyes

I noticed a couple things today which led me to this topic. The first was a story I read (using the Zite content aggregator on my iPad) discussing the shrinking real estate dedicated to actual organic search results on Google. You know, the things you’re actually searching for as opposed to ads or maps. Oddly enough, the example graphic was from a 13″ Macbook Air which is what I’m typing this on. I felt like I’d noticed that trend plus I’ve got Evernote results which show hits too.

What my screen looks like without the colored boxes. -Image from Forbes

The next thing I noticed was something related to work and also happened to be tied to search.  I was looking at a company’s site while streaming music from it.  I searched on Pearl Jam and got three hits.  Then I searched on it a few minutes later and got two hits.  Then it was just one hit.  I quickly realized that my hits were stations which were playing Pearl Jam when I hit the enter key.

Similarly, it’s not too difficult to go to Amazon – I’m a Prime member – and look for places where they personalize my experience.  In general it’s great tailored content.  Still, they’ve sent me an email personalized with Alex Cross novels when the first one on the list was about 25% read in my Kindle app.

The world around us is increasingly electronically tailored around us to give us more of what we’ve shown we’ll buy.  We extend that by leveraging tools like social sign-on and our Google accounts.  When I search for a business using Google then open up my Android phone, even the notifications will show me how long it takes to drive there.  Here’s an example from a search for a local gastropub.
Google wants me to go to Kozmo.
Google wants me to go to Kozmo.

It’s good to be aware of how information is gathered on us and how it’s used in interactions.  On one hand, it can feel invasive.  On the other, we grow to expect it.  When I go looking through a website for information or products, I expect the business to cater to me.  It’s great when things are made earlier or more convenient for me.  When there’s either no attempt to personalize then it negatively affects how I view that company.

On the other hand, maybe I try to hack my own life too hard.  The other day, I looked at my phone and saw a cloud icon in the notifications.  I looked a little closer to see which cloud-based application needed refreshing or updating.  It turns out that it was only the weather forecast.
Is your data partly cloudy or partly sunny?
Is your data partly cloudy or partly sunny?

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