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You might find this interesting:

Personalized search (2002). James Pitkow, Hinrich Sch├╝tze, Todd Cass, Rob Cooley, Don Turnbull, Andy Edmonds, Eytan Adar, Thomas Breuel. Communications of the ACM, 45(9). http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/567498.567526

The assets of the PARC spinoff from which this technology was developed was acquired by Google.


cool application for the new joint effort. i think Google is probably learning a lot about its possibilities from the free advice on the net right now.

i went to a talk by Eric Schmidt (google's CEO) today and his sole comment on the merger was "we hope to help them out." his point of view was just that his tool (Google) would be more useful if the content it searched (the rest of the net, including weblogs) was better. what a nice guy (and company).

Ted Weinstein

Steve -

Yes, it would be great if Google would offer the ability for me to search for results only on pages I have already visited. But they always had this capability via the cookie they (try to) place.

The issues keeping them from implementing such functionality already have probably been:
1 - competition to existing portals/customers (although they are obviously evolving to compete with their current portal customers in many other ways)
2 - data storage burden (keeping the database of every Google users's surfing behavior would require massive amounts of storage)
3 - privacy issues, as well as vulnerability to governmental demands that they release data on individual users' surfing habits in many legal situations.

But to get back to my original point: didn't Google already have the TECHNICAL capability to offer personalized Web indexes before they bought Blogger?


Rikard Linde

I made a mockup for something similar a couple of years ago. Check it out if you're interested.

Hmm... my intention was not to make this sound like a besserwisser comment but somehow it did.
Anyway, it's an idea that deserves to be implemented.



if you haven't read it already, you might want to take a look at Cory Doctorow's article on O'Reilly...

My Blog, My Outboard Brain

Ernie Schell

Even though it doesn't track page visits automatically, BackFlip offers a good bit of the functionality you are talking about. I'd be interested in your opinion of what BackFlip does (www.backflip.com).

Dave Seidel

Sorry, I think your article is based on a faulty premise. See my weblog for a (slightly) more extensive comment: http://radio.weblogs.com/0100130/2003/03/07.html#a159



Read your Emerging Technology April 2003 on how e-mails can help identify a karass. Really enjoyed it.


Rikard Linde

Actually, if I had used this tool before writing the last post I would have known that the mockup was created last year and not "a few years ago". So at least one person will become less ignorant if they make a tool like this:-)

Rikard Linde

Oh and thanks for the interesting read Steven. There aren't many people writing about this aspect of network technology in such a clear and "user-friendly" way. Thank you.


What you described in the Slate article sounds a lot like the history file kept by your browser.

Apologies for the self-link, but I've posted some additional commentary: http://www.atomiq.org/archives/000553.html




In my opinion this deal is not about improving search results or helping anybody out. It is simply about broadening the base for Google Adwords and improving the way to match ads with appropriate content. If Google is successful in that this would potentially help many content based business models to become financially viable again.

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My Photo
I'm a father of three boys, husband of one wife, and author of nine books, host of one television series, and co-founder of three web sites. We split our time between Brooklyn, NY and Marin County, CA. Personal correspondence should go to sbeej68 at gmail dot com. If you're interested in having me speak at an event, drop a line to Wesley Neff at the Leigh Bureau (WesN at Leighbureau dot com.)

My Books

  • Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

    Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
    A history of innovation accompanied by a 6-part TV series on PBS and the BBC, this was the first of my books to crack the top 5 on the NY Times bestseller list. Appropriately for a book that celebrates diverse networks, this was the most collaborative of any of my books. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • Steven Johnson: Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age

    Steven Johnson: Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age
    My first book-length attempt to organize my writings about emergence and networks into something resembling a political philosophy, which I called Peer Progressivism. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

    Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation
    An exploration of environments that lead to breakthrough innovation, in science, technology, business, and the arts. I conceived it as the closing book in a trilogy on innovative thinking, after Ghost Map and Invention. But in a way, it completes an investigation that runs through all the books, and laid the groundwork for How We Got To Now. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : The Invention of Air

    The Invention of Air
    The story of the British radical chemist Joseph Priestley, who ended up having a Zelig-like role in the American Revolution. My version of a founding fathers book, and a reminder that most of the Enlightenment was driven by open source ideals. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : The Ghost Map

    The Ghost Map
    The story of a terrifying outbreak of cholera in 1854 London 1854 that ended up changing the world. An idea book wrapped around a page-turner. I like to think of it as a sequel to Emergence if Emergence had been a disease thriller. You can see a trailer for the book here. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter

    Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter
    The title says it all. This one sparked a slightly insane international conversation about the state of pop culture -- and particularly games. There were more than a few dissenters, but the response was more positive than I had expected. And it got me on The Daily Show, which made it all worthwhile. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Mind Wide Open : Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life

    Mind Wide Open : Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life
    My first best-seller, and the only book I've written in which I appear as a recurring character, subjecting myself to a battery of humiliating brain scans. The last chapter on Freud and the neuroscientific model of the mind is one of my personal favorites. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software

    Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
    The story of bottom-up intelligence, from slime mold to Slashdot. Most of my books sold more copies than this one, but Emergence has influenced the most eclectic mix of fields: political campaigns, web business models, urban planning, the war on terror. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate

    Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate
    My first. The book I wrote instead of finishing my dissertation, predicting the growing cultural significance of interface and information design. Still relevant, I think. But I haven't read it in a while, so who knows what's in there! (Available from IndieBound here.)

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