Last week, I posted a couple of tweets (via http://twitter.com/psychemedia) that were essentially doodles around the edge of what services like Google can work out about you from your online activity.
As ever in these matters, I picked on AJCann in the tweets, partly because he evangelises social web tool use to his students;-)
So what did I look at?
- the Google Social Graph API – a service that tries to mine your social connections from public ‘friendships’ on the web. Check out the demo services…
- people he links to on twitter and flickr;
- people who link to him as a contact on twitter, delicious, friendfeed and flickr;
- a link picked up from Science of the Invisible (which happens to be one of Alan’s blogs), also picks out his identi.ca identity; adding that URL to the Social Graph API form pulls out more contacts – via foaf records – from Alan’s identi.ca profile;
The “Site Connections” demo pulls out all sorts of info about an individual by looking at URLs prominently associated with them, such as a personal blog:
The possible connections reveal Alan’s possible identity on Technorati, Twitter, identi.ca, friendfeed, swurl, seesmic and mybloglog.
- For anyone who doesn’t know what Alan looks like, you can always do a “face” search on Google images;
- increasingly, there are “people” search engines out there that are built solely for searching for people. One example is Spock (other examples include pipl, zoominfo and wink [and 123people, which offers and interesting federated search results page]). The Spock “deep web” search turns up links that potentially point to Alan’s friendfeed and twitter pages, his revver videos, slideshare account and so on;
- Alan seems to be pretty consistent in the username he uses on different sites. This makes it easy to guess his account on different sites, of course – or use a service like User Name Check to do a quick search;
Now I wasn’t going to post anything about this, but today I saw the following on Google Blogoscoped: Search Google Profiles, which describes a new Google search feature. (Didn’t know you had a Google Profile? If you have a Google account, you probably do – http://www.google.com/s2/profiles/me/? And if you want to really scare yourself with what your Google account can do to you, check http://www.google.com/history/… go on, I dare you…)
I had a quick look to see if I could find a link for the new profile search on my profile page, but didn’t spot one, although it’s easy enough to find the search form here: http://www.google.com/s2/profiles. (Maybe I don’t get a link because my profile isn’t public?)
Anyway, while looking over my profile, I thought I’d add my blog URL (http://ouseful.info) to it – and as soon as I clicked enter, got this:
A set of links that I might want to add to my profile – taken in part from the Social Graph API, maybe? Over the next 6 months I could see Google providing a de facto social network aggregation site, just from re-posting to you what they know about your social connections from mining the data they’ve crawled, and linking some of it together…
And given that the Goog can learn a lot about you by virtue of crawling public pages that are already out there, how much more comprehensive will your profile on Google be (and how certain will it be in the profile it can automatically generate around you?) if you actually feed it yourself? (Bear in mind things like health care records exist already…)
PS I just had a look at my own Web History page on Google, and it seems like they’ve recently added some new features, such as “popular searches related to my searches”, and also something on search trends that I don’t fully (or even partially) understand? Or maybe they were already there and I’ve not noticed before/forgotten (I rarely look at my search history…)
[Have you heard about Google’s ‘social circle’ technology yet? read more]