The Externalities of Search 2.0: The Emerging Privacy Threats when the Drive for the Perfect Search Engine meets Web 2.0

Michael Zimmer

Abstract


Web search engines have emerged as a ubiquitous and vital tool for the successful navigation of the growing online informational sphere. As Google puts it, the goal is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" and to create the "perfect search engine" that provides only intuitive, personalized, and relevant results. Meanwhile, the so-called Web 2.0 phenomenon has blossomed based, largely, on the faith in the power of the networked masses to capture, process, and mashup one's personal information flows in order to make them more useful, social, and meaningful. The (inevitable) combining of Google's suite of information-seeking products with Web 2.0 infrastructures -- what I call Search 2.0 -- intends to capture the best of both technical systems for the touted benefit of users. By capturing the information flowing across Web 2.0, search engines can better predict users' needs and wants, and deliver more relevant and meaningful results. While intended to enhance mobility in the online sphere, this paper argues that the drive for Search 2.0 necessarily requires the widespread monitoring and aggregation of a users' online personal and intellectual activities, bringing with it particular externalities, such as threats to informational privacy while online.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v13i3.2136



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