Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.
If like me you work in web development (which frankly is a good bet that you do if you read my blog), then you are probably very familiar with that common complaint that someones websites does not appear first on google. This complaint ranks up there in my list of pet peeves. Trying to explain to someone who has no technical knowledge of how search engines work is truly an effort in futility.
Search Results Are No Longer Consistent
However, there was at least a time when you knew that if you googled a particular phrase that you would get the same results no matter what computer you used. Unfortunately those days are long gone. More and more search engines and social networking sites are "customizing" your search results based on your location, past search history, etc. Even your browser is a potential factor to determine what you get when you search for something on the web.
Now the likes of google etc. claim that this is for our benefit. I don't agree though. While the intention may be good I think it is actually a very bad thing, both for individuals and for society as a whole.
Eli Pariser on What Google & Facebook Are Hiding From The World
To understand what I mean I suggest you watch Eli Pariser giving a very enlightening TED talk on how google and facebook are customizing our search results and what this really means for the user.
Is There A Solution
Lets be honest here. Google and Facebook are too big to pay attention to anything we say or do. If you want to write and complain to them be my guest, just don't hold your breath.
Now I only use facebook when I have to for work to maintain the company page. Other than that I don't use it at all. Isn't it ironic that the one guy in the whole company who is allowed use facebook in work, is the one guy who doesn't want to.
As for google, well my solution has been to stop using google as my main search engine. Yeah amazingly there are other search engines out there /sarc. I still use it from time to time but my go to search engine these days is DuckDuckGO. It gives really good results and also provides a measure of privacy vs google habit of collecting every shred of data available about you.
Its Your Choice
Of course its up to you what you do. Maybe you like having your search customized for you. For me though I prefer a more balanced view of the information out on the web.