Why Search needs VRM

Much laughter and thanks to Cory Doctorow for a send up of the Googlefuture, Scroogled. I’ll add a subtitle: “Learning to love Google nation.”

Cory’s tale noir makes it crystal clear why Search needs VRM-style solutions to deal with user control of query and clickstream data. Google isn’t about to let you fully edit or delete your unsavory history any time soon (what a boon that they now promise to anonymize after 18 months). Other efforts, like APML, mostly seem to be beautiful ways to aggregate personal data from everywhere you go and everything you do online… with minimal talk about how you control access to it. John Batelles Data Bill of Rights and similar efforts show promise, but none specifically address how we resolve Search as digital trail of inherently privacy-busting data. Even within the Identity and VRM communities, there has been precious little talk about how to put users in control of their relationships with Search providers, which is to say VRM for Search.

SwitchBook is still essentially in stealth mode, which means I won’t yet say much, except that we think our approach to Search addresses some of these problems, offering a privacy-savvy framework for user-centric Search. We can’t make Google give up your data, but we can create new ways to Search the web that fundamentally reshape how your Search history and results are managed. There’s a reason I’m a big supporter of VRM and it has everything to do with putting the user in control of where and how they Search, while leveraging an incredibly rich personal data store as they do so.

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