Sunday, August 28, 2011

Children and Tech Series - Post #6

google – part 1
Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Here is my first post on Google. I’m delighted that we’re exploring it for two weeks, and am really curious to see what comes up for people.

As a precursor to this post, I put up a video I found on Youtube about the potential for a Google conspiracy. I posted it for all the groups in the class, and am very curious to see the responses. Some folks have already responded, which is great. We’ll see what others think.

My own take on it, and with most conspiracy theories is this – if someone is going to take the time to track my every move on Google-related internet interfaces, and target me with advertising or map my genome, let them. I am not that interesting, or important, a person for it to be worth the effort to do so. I am a little surprised by the whole idea, actually. It makes me really wonder about how much privacy risk I am really under.

If someone targets me with advertising media, I am going to apply my critical-thinking superpowers to the situation and do what I normally do, which is ignore the ad anyways. If someone wants to map my genome – go for it. What for? And why would they?

To be honest – I regret posting the video the way I did – without any critical preamble saying “do you believe this?” or “take this with a grain of salt” or “for more fear mongering, watch this”. There is a danger on the internet, and it’s in taking everything we find there as truth and NOT applying our superpowers to them.

Back to Googleland – which I enjoy, regardless whether or not they are trying to map my genome to make a huge artificial intelligence or not (a whole other story – Singularity, anyone?). Having recently switched over to gmail so that I don’t have check 18 different emails at once (slight exaggeration), I have been exploring and been shown some of the truly amazing things Google has developed. After trying to figure out what PageRank was about for 45 minutes straight, and still not really getting it, I’ve decided to concentrate on the things I do get.

Google Docs are wonderful things, designed to allow for instantaneous knowledge sharing and creation. They are great collaborative tools to, as you can simultaneously work on one with a group of people (frustrating and/or inspiring – depending on how much of your work gets scrapped or changed i guess). Learning about Boolean searches and Google Scholar have been a real boon too, for school stuff. But the most exciting Google product so far that I’m using are the awesome email alerts.

I’m in placement at the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, which is an advocacy group working to make child care actually supported by the government in Ontario. Part of my work there is to know what folks are saying about child care all over the province. Google offers this search thingy that will email you directly to your gmail account email alerts about specific search terms. So I signed up for one that searches “child care” and “ontario” and have gotten A LOT of great articles from all over the province about peoples thoughts, ideas, feelings and responses to the child care situation in Ontario – SO AMAZING.

If that helps Google map my genome – oh well.

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