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In search of a more personal Google


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I don't think anyone would argue that Google took the world by storm. What seemed like overnight, people everywhere began pointing to Google. And just shortly before that, Google began pointing to the sites we were looking for with uncanny accuracy. The reason was not a fluke: a Stanford graduate by the name of Larry Page developed a unique and powerful mathematical algorithm for ranking web pages by consensus, assigning a score to each page which takes into consideration such factors as who is linking to the page and how often it is updated. Not surprisingly, Larry coined the equivocal term for the technology: PageRank.

But Google has not been without its criticism. With the rise in popularity of blogging and people creating links in unprecedented numbers, is anyone surprised by the resulting 'Google wash' that occurs?

Was anyone besides me surprised to learn that the same search terms entered into Google on different computers will yield the same results? After all, with all the spy ware and cookies out there which personalize your browsing and shopping experiences, why not your search results?

Which brings me to this morning's headline over at CNet's news.com. Apparently Stanford is attempting to eclipse the success of the original Google algorithm by extending it, giving it a "personal touch." Apparently personalization is the next big thing coming in search technology, say some search industry pundits:

"Personalization is one of the holy grails for search. Everybody's working on (it) to some degree or another. When it comes out of the labs and what flavor it takes are the big questions."

Will personalizing search technologies find users quicker than Google did? Will it be the end of the 'Google wash'? Or will it merely be another way for advertisers to locate and spam us?

Whatever it metamorphoses into, I just hope the option remains for a "Classic Google".

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