Big data, small world. In what seems like the ultimate me-focused development in the personalization trend, Google...
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will soon roll out the newest version of its map service, which promises to get you where you're going by providing a simulacrum of your own little world. But how will Google know you're more interested in getting to Joe's Coffee than Jane's Beanery (and therefore leaving the latter off your map entirely)? The same way it knows most things about you -- by the things you like, the things you mention in your emails and what you share with friends on social media sites. The type of "stuff" we talk about when we talk about big data.
It's amazing stuff, and it's also too much. This week's lead Searchlight item from Slate writer Evgeny Morozov looks at the cost of this kind of hyper-personalization from a sociological angle. Sure, it's a great deal for Google and advertisers and may make users' lives easier. But is it the best, most responsible use of data? With all that we gain in terms of convenience by having information catered to our every need (and anticipated need), there are also losses in privacy and, it could be argued, humanity and our desire to relate to it.
"Way back," when word got out that Google was adapting its search function to show users sites, news and images that would be of most interest to them, there were rumblings of concern. I was one of those rumblers, thinking how awful that sounded -- limiting or at least downplaying exposure to ideas and opinions folks don't already have. Surely there would be some backlash -- no one has to use Google, buut we all continued to anyway. But I'm sensing a change in the zeitgeist -- a lot more talk of Big Brother and less unalloyed admiration for these modern conveniences. Maybe the early rumblings over Google's map service will at least spark debate about not just how companies use our data but what we do when it's repackaged back to us.
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Also in this week's Searchlight, what's on the mind of Apple's Tim Cook, how finding focus can fortify your future, new challenges to Net neutrality and more.
- Google's latest version of its map service takes the data personalization trend to a new level -- and knows precisely what route you want to take to get there and the place you want to stop at for coffee.
- The "peek" in the headline is a little misleading -- this video is more a longish gaze into the mind of Apple CEO Tim Cook. Grab some popcorn and pretend you're watching a movie on your laptop.
- You can never have too many values, right? Not so, top CEOs tell the NYT -- why simplicity is good for your team's focus and your career.
- Traditionally, all data packets are considered equal, but that might no longer be the case. New challenges to "Net neutrality" are emerging, causing a threat to the Net as we know it.
- The visions of cloud solution companies might affect the way all businesses see themselves, as well as how they are seen.
- It's not too late to save Windows 8 if these five fixes are made, says Forbes' contributor Tony Bradley.
Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, Features Writer.
Karen Goulart, Senior Features Writer asks:
Is the data personalization trend going too far?
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