Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Google's Personalized Search: Is It Relevant?

Google announces that Personalized Search will now be default. That could be good, but that could also be bad.

I worry that, in Google's quest for relevant search results, it may be undermining what it is trying to develop--relevancy.

Say a student uses Google all the time to conduct research, but they do not critically evaluate the websites they use (i.e. they don't have good information literacy skills). Let's say the student pulls information from sites that do not have a vetting process. Google's Personalized Search will rank the student's usual sources over others like .edu sites. Furthermore, general users like our hypothetical student rarely go beyond the first page of results. Thus, Google reinforces the student's poor searching habits while the student believes they are obtaining relevant information. However, the information is not relevant if it is incorrect.

To opt out of personalized search, go here.

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