Google Gets Into the Portal Business

I’ve been experimenting with Google’s new personalized home feature which enables anyone with a Google account to create a customizable homepage. In typical Google style they don’t out-do the competition (like MyYahoo) on features, but instead simplicity and ease of use. You can drag and drop the content units around freely from the normal display mode, and the system provides support for converting any RSS feed into a box in addition to providing integration with Gmail and a number of pre-set content units. I have it set up to display my gmail, weather, WMATA’s service advisories (provided in RSS), a couple craigslist searches I am monitoring, as well as a few blogs I am watching, in addition to some of the news blocks they have pre-set. You can even convert customized google news searches into boxes. Like a9, they also have a search history feature that keeps track of your searches – which I find a bit creepy, but they provide a mechanism to easily turn it off.

While I have long pushed the privacy concerns I have had with Google out of my mind, this latest tool has made me realize the company now has access to 1. My email, 2. My IM chats on google talk, 3. My search history.

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. As I understand it, not only do they have access to your IM chats, they own the content of them and possibly their intellectual contents.

    Google reserves the right to scan your email for content and keywords too.

    Frankly, I’m suprised so many people signed up. I think 20 people asked me if I wanted a g-mail account in the last year.

    I guess I’m suspicous of “free”. Ain’t nothing free.

  2. That explains why many of my search results have been off lately. I spent two days looking for information about my Mennonite ancestors in Pennsylvania. Suddenly, it seemed like Mennonites are everywhere, doing everything.

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