Posted April 28, 2007 1:28 pm by with 5 comments

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In light of cases of Google losing personal data, reassurances from Matt Cutts, and even extremely well-targeted Adsense ads (ie they were relevant to the searcher’s interests, but not the website he was viewing at the time) this week, I was really surprised to see this as I logged in to Google Video (yes, I still use Google Video):
personalized recommendations from Google video
That’s pretty personal. I have only searched for terms containing ‘BYU’ (my alma mater) a handful of times (okay, six) according to my Google Web History, and none within the last month.

Despite the fact that it says at the top of the page “Your web history is limited to searches,” Google Web History not only tracks what Google searches you’ve performed while signed in, it also tracks which results you click on—and, apparently, everything else on those pages. I’ve clicked through a total of 28 different sites that mention BYU. (And 135 different searches or sites that mention ‘SEO,’ which doesn’t seem quite high enough.)

The Pinewood Derby one is just a little weird. After such accurate results on the others, it’s a little surprising to see a clip of something I’ve never seen, never participated in, never been interested in. Google Web History indicates that I’ve never searched for it and have only viewed one website containing the term in the last eight months.

It’s pretty interesting to see personalized data in action—and a the same time, see such a clear ‘miss.’

  • Interesting. It seems to me Google could be looking at videos those similar to your profile have been interested in. Also I could see throwing in somewhat random videos to get stats (somewhat like a “control” in scientific experiments). Or perhaps a combination of those two options…

  • I think another thing about this is the tags on these videos. These are the only text the vids, well apart from the description, and if these match to an extent, then the filter must think that these are the same kinds if videos that you have been looking for.

    That is the thing with any context type algorithm. The computer is not a human so can’t really see what you are looking for, and the human is not a computer, and so can’t process large amounts of data.

  • Your not alone, I use Google video.
    But considering Google has a billion pages and growing daily to search, index, and so forth. 100% accuracy will truly never be accomplish.

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