In a soon to be published TED talk (which content I won't reveal), Eli Pariser got a general standing ovation for an idea which challenges our conventionnal perception of the web's development but reflects the premises of the CENTREPETAL WEB perfectly. The Internet is becoming much more local than global. And one reason is that it's becoming much more personnal. The next time one of your friends and yourself are sitting next to each other, each behind your laptops, try out an experiment : Search for the word "Lybia" as Fraser suggests. Both of you. You will surprisingly notice that the results are quite different. That is because Google's algorithms take into account every click you two have ever made on their search page hence concluding what your interests are. Though Libya is raging with political unrest, all you might get are economic news about oil since you're into oil stock trading. And your friend, who's a pacifist, might get the political news, and most probably from a democrat point of view since he's been clicking on democrat links.
Here is Subject A's results (me, I'm subject A :-)) :
And Subject B (But who is subject B ?) :
So it seems as if Google, inadvertently through its algorithm and the personnalisation it allows, has unlocked a powerful key to that could enable us to compare individuals : The Google Personnality Index (GPI) is a qualitative index showing who you are based on your search results for various topics. Comparing your GPI to another person's GPI shows how distant or close your Personnality is from hers.
Google might be on its way to becoming the shrink of the future or, better yet, the couple matching application of tomorrow: If Google knows exactly what your search results are, couldn't it match you with someone who has the same results for the same request and could hence be most likely to enjoy a discussion with you ? The truth is actually that this kind of predictive software is on its way. Internet applications know so much about us that they could probably predict with more accuracy than we could which trip or club or item or movie or person we might enjoy the most ... To all developpers out there, here's your sign that the future can now be unleashed
But the rise of this GPI and extreme personnalisation is being done at the expense of randomness. THe beautiful randomness of the web. We all want relevant search results but shouldn't we also be alerted of the human, social, political dimension of the things we are searching for ?
The internet is becoming more and more a tailor-fit information serving. But as Fraser puts it : "Nobody wants a web of one ?" Right ?