Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Whose history would you like to see?

FastCo had an interesting post yesterday about how you can download your browsing history on google (Twitter also lets you download your tweeting history) and how you could then see what marketeers and google knows about you.  I don't think that's nearly as interesting as the potential if you could see the browsing history of really interesting people. Or people who are making an impact on thought or research in a particular field.

I was reading "The Open Research Web" yesterday, and while reading it was thinking, wow this is wonderful combined with, but some of this is already happening with Google scholar (book is dated 2006, which is light-years ago in tech terms), but at the same time we could do more. And that more could be incorporating the searching of the experts.

I was just thinking of whose search history I'd like to be able to interrogate.  I like interrogating things like people's bibliographies/references in their articles / books anyway, but by it's very nature the references are only the stuff they used. What about the stuff they discarded but may be just the thing to complete your curiosity and research puzzle?

Right now at this moment I guess it would be people like Jane McGonigal, Stephen Downes (who kind of shares bits of what he curates after his searches and feeds), Carol Kuhlthau, David Weinberger, Esther Duflo, Jim Cummins just to name a few off the top of my head.  Next week it would be a different subset.

I'm not much into day-to-day politics, but wouldn't it be fascinating for the historians of the future to have access to the search histories of the leaders of today?

It's almost a pity all this information and raw data is just being sold to the highest bidder and grossed up and anonymised as it is personalised just for the sake of one-on-one grubby commercial marketing.  Sure, maybe google say the want to "do no evil" but what potential for good are they leaving on the table?