I attended a presentation by Google’s Director of User Happiness & Search Research Scientist yesterday. (Don’t you love his title?) The class provided advanced Google techniques for a variety of staff members, including researchers, librarians and other folks who are frequent Googlers.
I myself must use Google over 100 times a day for work and about as much for personal business. Yesterday, I learned I can check my entire search history. To me, this is the equivalent of getting on the scale when I know I’m way overweight. There are some things it’s just best to just leave as unknown. I won’t be checking that anytime soon.
I learned that when someone takes a picture on their cell phone, their GPS coordinates are embedded in the file. So never send a photo to someone if you don’t want them to know exactly where you are. I also learned other techniques to determine the location of a photo. I also learned to identify animals and objects by simply dragging an image into the Google search tool. I tried this with a picture of my teenage daughter and found a few new ways to stalk her online activity. (Not that I ever do.)
I learned how to find a blueprint of the White House, and then how to click around and see pictures of the rooms inside it.
Have you ever struggled to come up with a name for something? Google has an interesting reverse dictionary that will never leave you wondering what that whatchamacallit is again. I’m told it’s also good for cheating on crossword puzzles.
I’ve read that Google and Facebook are buying up a lot of Artificial Intelligence companies. This worries me. I’m already creeped out by some of the personalized ads I find on my Facebook feed. Today, I actually saw an ad for a sweatshirt with my name on it. It’s starting to seem like I only need to think about needing a pair of black shoes and all of a sudden I see an ad for black shoes on the side of a search result screen.
While I thought yesterday’s class was pretty cool, it brought to mind the following quote by Nobel prizewinner and Artificial Intelligence pioneer Herbert Simon: "What information consumes is rather obvious. It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information, creates a poverty of attention...."