I had one of my lovely epiphanies today? Is news more shocking because it is sudden? Or is it shocking because it is presented in a shocking manner, as in an hysterical tone of voice? The big squawk on Fox news this morning was the new Google interface. It harvests and combines your internet history from Google, Gmail, and other services. Hello…Gmail is Google mail? Why is this news to anyone? The merger happened years ago, and of course they share info. The contents of you email is scanned for keywords to direct advertising to you.
Fox reporters would have us all up in arms about this new Google interface. It invades our privacy, etc. This hoop de la is much like trying to slam the barn door after the horses already got out. Google claims this collecting your internet browsing history will improve the user experience. Oh right, lining a jail cell with mink will improve the user experience, but it’s still jail.
Data mining is not a new thing. The internet made it a lot easier, true. Anyone who ever got on a catalog mailing list can attest to this. I signed up for the Victorian Trading Post catalog 10 years ago. Now I get so many catalogs in the mail that we could build a pueblo out in the back yard using recycled catalogs. Most of them go straight in the trash.
Using Gmail is pretty much like spreading out your laundry on the front hedges to dry while living on a busy street. Trust me, everyone will see it sooner or later. Unless you have been living under a rock there is no way anyone can possibly not know this. I must be patient though. I’ve lived under other varieties of misinformation rocks many times in my life.
Even this beloved WordPress snips a little out bit of data out of our posts to use in the link at the bottom of the post that says “similar articles” or something like that. These links show occasionally on my blog and are loosely based on what I write. Although the logic of the algorithm eludes me. The problem with this process is that sometimes things are waaaaay out of context.
For and extreme example let’s say I mention something like “naked greed” in a post. The similar links may link to something about nudist camps or naked men. Now a naked man in my house, AKA, my husband is not disturbing. A naked man in the grocery store leering at me is extremely disturbing. The point is that he has nothing to do with what I am writing about. But the links show up on my blog and many can or will assume that it is my doing. Oh well, I love WordPress anyway.
So back to privacy and old news. Please pay attention and before you get all hysterical about something you hear on the news, take a deep breath and ask yourself 2 questions. 1) Is even true? 2) Is this way old news which means there is nothing left to shout about.
Friends and neighbors, as a public service announcement please read this article on LifeHacker.com Top 10 Simple Privacy Tricks Everyone Should Use. I re-read it from time to time because I get lax about it and also I tend to computer hop.