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What Google Knows About Me

Google has been tracking my searches (with my permission – I thought it would be interesting to be able to analyze this data, and I don’t care that they have it) since April 2005 – for two years now. I use Google Reader to read almost 500 feed subscriptions, and it lets me look at my reading trends. Turns out I read on average of 780 feed items per day. Today, I enabled them to track the pages I visit (the controversial Web History feature, though it only works where I have the Google Toolbar installed). Again, I opted in to this, and I don’t care that they have the data. I don’t have anything to hide in where I browse, and I’m all about transparency, so to me, the value of being able to mine my own attention data outweighs the downside. If you feel otherwise, I totally understand – you should decide for yourself what you do with your attention data.

So, that said, here’s what Google knows about me. And now you know it, too. :-)

There’s a clear dip in my daily searches around lunch time, and dinnertime, too. And it seems I do more searches in the afternoon. I also don’t do much searching on the weekends. But I do more searching in the springtime. My top searches are for items where I know the name, but I don’t have the URL memorized (like Autostitch). And, of course, my own name, to see where I rank in the ole’ reputation engine. :-)

Here’s my search activity for last month. No interesting patterns here, though it does give me the total number of searches that I’ve done in the last two years – 5,426.

Here are my Google Reader trends/statistics:

Just so you know, I really reduced the number of feeds I read a few weeks ago. I was around 800 feeds before I pruned. At one point, I read as many as 1500 feeds, but that was just too much. The 494 feeds I read now are the result of a years-long process of refining and distilling my reading list.

Again, you can see the dips on the weekends. I tend to spend more time with my family (my wife Rachel, and our kids) on the weekends, and I try not to spend hours on end in front of the computer reading feeds. I’m showing the feeds that I most often mark as “Shared” for my Linkblog, so you can get an idea of where most of the stuff I find interesting comes from. And you can see the list of my most frequently updated feeds, and how often I read every item in those feeds (sometimes I skim for what’s interesting and mark the rest as read, though not often, and usually only on really high traffic feeds). The tag cloud at the bottom shows the folders I have my 494 feeds organized into, but I don’t see any real interesting pattern there. But it’s pretty, no?

So, there you go. A summary of what Google knows about me. What does Google know about you? More importantly, do you know what they know, and are you OK with it? If not, do something about it!

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