Google Owns My Identity: 16 Things They Know About Me

Google Owns MeI am a huge Google advocate.  I love their products so much that I use almost every one of them on a fairly regular basis.  Much of my computer based productivity is performed online via Google’s offerings.  In fact, based on my excessive use, I think Google may know almost as much about me as I do.  I’m surely not the only G freak out there, because most of my friends and colleagues have an email address too… 😉 something I’d like to think I had something to do with.

A vast number of articles have been written on the topic of Google’s privacy policies.  I know because I’ve probably read most of them.  Many of these articles discuss the specifics how Google stores and secures their user’s personal information.  Sure, I like to know that my personal data is secure…  But have you ever actually compiled a detailed list of your personal information that Google does know?  I just did, and it’s slightly startling!

Here are 16 things Google knows about me and how they acquired the info:

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6 Digitally Traceable Tracks We Unconsciously Leave Behind

Digital TracksWe live in a world of constant connection where the products of our existence interrelate in such a way that we rarely leave a clean slate behind us.  Many people fail to see the correlation between technological convenience and disruption of privacy.  Even when nobody is watching, it is quite plausible that a computer somewhere is.  The data tracks we leave behind are traceable, and when the dots are connected, the trail leads right back to us.

I have compiled a list of 6 digitally traceable tracks we unconsciously leave behind as we trek through our daily routines.  I have also included a hypothetical example of how easy it can be to track someone down online by tracing their online affiliations and dabbling with the information that is found.

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What if Google DID Buy Yahoo?

Google buys YahooWould Google buy Yahoo?  Could Google buy Yahoo?  Who really cares?  A better question is:  What would happen if Google did buy Yahoo, and how would it affect the end user?  I’ve seen so many bloggers and journalists dance around with the “Should Google”, “Could Google”, and “Would Google” questions.  I find this sort of pragmatic speculation to be somewhat uninteresting.  The reality may very well be that Google will never buy Yahoo, but it’s more fun to wonder what might happen if they did.  Sometimes curiosity can be so much more entertaining than reality.

So, what would happen if Google bought Yahoo?  Here are a few of my thoughts:

World Wide Web Domination – Google currently holds roughly 48% of the web based search market.  Yahoo holds another 28%.  Combine those numbers with the overall importance of web searching and you begin to appreciate the possibility of the big G’s World Wide Web domination! Google would command about 76% of the search market.  For the end user this could actually be a good thing.  Just think… no more frustrated grandmas wastefully struggling to find relevance in Yahoo’s search engine results.

Gmail Becomes King – Inferior or not, Yahoo Mail still holds the #1 position for being the most popular webmail service on the Internet.  Combine the shear volume of Yahoo Mail users with the masterful design of Gmail and the world is bound to experience an explosion of productive emailing ecstasy.

Welcome to Google MessengerYahoo Messenger holds a solid 2nd place in the race for worldwide Instant Messaging market share.  Google Talk is still the new kid on the block… growing rapidly, but not quite hitting mass market popularity just yet.  However, the Google Talk client is exceptionally agile and feature rich.  It uses minimal system resources and flawlessly integrates with Gmail by gracefully bridging the gap between email and instant messaging.  Yahoo has attempted to follow Google’s lead (as they usually do), but they ultimately fall short of Google’s refined touch.  Uniting the user volume of Yahoo Messenger with the elite craft of Google Talk could be a positive experience for everyone involved.  This would really open up the pipeline of communication!

Google Answers… The Best of Both Worlds – Yahoo triumphed in the war of user driven Web 2.0 question and answer sites.  Google took a shot at it with Google Answers, but it never caught on with the masses.  Yahoo Answers, on the other hand, is still thriving.  Yahoo won the battle because its service was free.  It also didn’t hurt that Yahoo already commanded a massive user base from its Yahoo Mail and Messenger services.  Yahoo users didn’t have to sign up for anything new.  They could instantly start asking and answering questions with their current Yahoo accounts. 

Google was actually trying to attract a totally different crowd.  They were matching up qualified subject matter experts with people who had questions.  The people asking questions would pay a small fee for receiving the guidance of an expert.  Although this model had slight flaws, it created a searchable online database of questions and related expert advice.  This searchable pool of advice is far more refined than most of the juvenile question and answer sessions cataloged on Yahoo Answers.

Imagine if they combined the two ideas, added Yahoo’s massive user base, and mix it up with some of Google’s creativity.  The outcome would be enlightening!

Yahoo Finance Content with a Google Finance TouchYahoo Finance is based on the philosophy that “content is king”.  It provides a great wealth of original content that easily rivals some of the biggest financial sites in the game (CNN Money,, etc.). Google Finance attracts users with a set of refined Web 2.0 market analysis graphs/tools and associated relevant third-party content.  These two worlds combined would be ideal for the thousands of investors that constantly jump back and forth.  Think about it, expert financial advice combined with cutting edge Web 2.0 analysis tools.  Toss in Google’s imaginative edge and you have a winner.  We could all be making money more efficiently together!

Creative Minds UniteFlickr and YouTube are two of the most prominent Web 2.0 communities in existence.  Although they attract slightly different user demographics, they both rely heavily on the creativity and expression of their users.  One deals with photos, the other deals with video.  One is owned by Yahoo, the other by Google.  If Google acquired Yahoo, Flickr and YouTube would become brothers.  Would they play well together?  If done right, I think they would.  Combine Google’s inventive influence with the creative minds inhabiting two of the most popular Web 2.0 communities and I believe something remarkable could transpire.

Conclusion – Uniting elite technological genius (Google) with the kings of content (Yahoo) really would be an amazing merger from a technical, industry, and cultural standpoint.  Call me crazy, but I’m a believer.  Functionally, I think it would work pretty well.

The Google Anonymous are Safe and Jobless

The Google AnonymousIn today’s fast paced, highly competitive job market where first impressions are the fine line between success and failure, you must be keenly aware of your online image.  Bear in mind that a rising number of human resource recruiters are using Google when gathering information on potential employees.  The necessity to maintain a clean online image should be common sense.  We all know that posting photos of ourselves dancing on bar tops and/or partaking in acts radicalism probably won’t help our image in the eyes of an employer. 

With these points in mind, being anonymous on Google might sound like a safe bet.  But what really happens if a Google search for your name comes back blank?  If an employer searches Google for your name and absolutely no results are returned, are you really any better off?  The answer may be no.  A mid-2006 market analysis by career search firm ExecuNet reported that 77% of the job recruiters claim they use search engines as a primary tool to research potential employees.  It seems quite probable that this percentage has increased drastically in the last year. 

If Google can’t locate a single webpage that references you, how much of an impact could you have possibly made in your career?  If you have a tech based career it paints an even darker picture of your past performance.  Having your own web presence says something about your contributions to the market itself.  Even if your presence is derived from short intelligent comments left on professional forums, it shows that you are actively involved and aware of what is going on.

The best defense against being Google anonymous is a good offense.  Be proactive.  Create a web presence that you are proud to identify with.  When you set out to build this presence, use your real name if you want people to find you. 

Here are 3 ideas to get you started:

1.  Create a Blog – Blogger Adam Darowski suggests that the blog is the new resume.  If executed properly, it could be even better than a resume.  It is a true representation of who you are, spoken freely in your own words.  Your blog has the power to completely influence someone’s opinion about you.  It satisfies the curiosity of any entity, especially potential employers, which might Google you to see what kind of person you are.  The key is to show them your best, but remain truthful while doing so.  Truth is the key to success for any blogger. 

2.  Create a Personal Website – Popular domain sellers like GoDaddy and Yahoo Small-Business have simple step-by-step webpage creation tools that allow non-techie users to setup attractive websites.  A website is designed to be more static than a blog, so you are not expected to update it as often.  It could be used as a professional web portfolio by including your resume, professional works, career summaries, goals, etc.

3.  Use Professional Networking Sites – Professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Ziggs can also assist you in establishing a respectable online presence that will be searchable via Google.  Both sites allow you to build an online profile, associate it with past employers, and network with professional contacts.

  • Get started with professional social networking:

 Just remember, if you don’t exist to Google, you may not exist at all.

7 Clever Google Tricks Worth Knowing

Below I have compiled a list of 7 clever Google tricks that I believe everyone should be aware of.  Together I think they represent the apex of the grand possibilities associated with Google search manipulation tricks and hacks.  Although there are many others out there, these 7 tricks are my all-time favorite.  Enjoy yourself. 

1.  Find the Face Behind the Result – This is a neat trick you can use on a Google Image search to filter the search results so that they include only images of people.  How is this useful?  Well, it could come in handy if you are looking for images of the prominent people behind popular products, companies, or geographic locations.  You can perform this search by appending the code &imgtype=face to the end of the URL address after you perform a standard Google Image search.

2.  Google + Social Media Sites = Quality Free Stuff – If you are on the hunt for free desktop wallpaper, stock images, WordPress templates or the like, using Google to search your favorite social media sites is your best bet.  The word “free” in any standard search query immediately attracts spam.  Why wade through potential spam in standard search results when numerous social media sites have an active community of users who have already ranked and reviewed the specific free items that interest you.  All you have to do is direct Google to search through each of these individual social media sites, and bingo… you find quality content ranked by hundreds of other people.

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