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6/21/2013
04:46 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Google Mine Wants To Track Your Stuff

Google reportedly is testing Google Mine, a Google+ offshoot that lets you share info about your real-world objects. Sounds more like a gold mine for Google.

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Google appears to be testing a Google+ service designed to help catalog, track and share information about possessions with friends.

According to the blog Google Operating System, the service is called "Google Mine," a name that just happens to echo the company's interest in data mining.

"Google Mine lets you share your belongings with your friends and keep up to date with what your friends are sharing," a purported screenshot of the service explains. "It enables you to control which of your Google+ Circles you share an item with. It also lets you rate and review the items, upload photos of them and share updates on the Google+ Stream where your friends get to see and comment on them."

Asked to confirm the existence of this service, Google in an emailed statement said only, "We are always experimenting with new features to help improve people's online experience, but have nothing specific to share at this time."

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The name is more than a double entendre. It's likely to be a lie, assuming the service is governed by Google's privacy policy. The information I provide to Google Mine will not really be mine anymore; it will be Google's to use. Technically, the information might be mine, but what does that mean when I have granted Google a license that brings most of the benefits of ownership? What's mine is theirs.

It's a brilliant labor exploitation scheme. Google has profited from the work of others before. Its PageRank algorithm extracted the effort that went into creating Web links and used that work to create a better search engine. Its YouTube service rose to prominence on the copyrighted content of others and then turned around and won over content makers by allowing them to monetize the infringement the service facilitated. Its Google+ social network turns users' keystroke labor into commercially relevant data that Google can monetize.

But Google Mine extends Google's data mining into new territory: Real-world interactions and objects. It aspires to create an Internet of Things with pointers rather than direct Internet addressability.

Google proposes the following uses for its service: reviewing your possessions for the benefit of your friends; sending requests to borrow items; sharing things you wish for; soliciting recommendations for things; giving items away; browsing possessions friends have shared.

In short, the company wants content that it can monetize without paying anyone. When Google, Facebook or other social networking services invite you to share, they want your work as payment for the "free" service you're receiving. (This desire went unfulfilled with Google Knol.)

Google Mine in theory could provide Google with data similar to Amazon.com's vast knowledge of its customers' possessions. Amazon knows not only products shipped to customers but also products customers already possess, when customers choose to enter that information in an effort to correct product recommendations. It knows what people want, thanks to their wish lists.

Google covets such data. If you want to advertise products to someone, it helps to know the products that person already owns and the products that person wants. Google Mine might be more aptly named Google Gold Mine, provided it actually attracts users.

I suspect it won't, if Google ever opts to expose Mine to the world at large. Lending items among friends has worked for generations without any technical infrastructure. Most people don't operate like lending libraries, with hundreds or thousands of items loaned out at any given time. Most people can recall when they've lent something to a friend. Google Mine simply isn't necessary. Google doesn't appear to be adding enough value to interactions related to objects to be invited to observe the things in our homes.

Google should mind its own business, but then the company is doing just that, isn't it? Google sees all data as its business. It's almost like an intelligence agency.

Google's mission is to organize the world's information. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to keep some information to yourself.

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cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
6/27/2013 | 5:29:33 AM
re: Google Mine Wants To Track Your Stuff
A good discussion of Google Mine, an experimental, Google+ service. Tom touches upon the similarity between the individual information Google seeks to capture and the information that's falling into the hands of Amazon.com. There seems to be more and more effort at Google to get a share of the pie that Amazon already has its hand in. Chasing after or having a strategy that seeks to match the assets of a rival seldom makes for a great company. It's better when a company cultivates its own, innovative strengths. Charlie Babcock, editor at large
MarciaNWC
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MarciaNWC,
User Rank: Author
6/26/2013 | 4:16:33 PM
re: Google Mine Wants To Track Your Stuff
Seems that Google would have a tough time marketing this service. The value add is clear for Google but not for users.
Cara Latham
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Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/26/2013 | 1:24:36 PM
re: Google Mine Wants To Track Your Stuff
It might be me, but I just don't see a point in Google Mine. If I wanted to borrow something from a friend, chances are if I know him/her well enough, I would already know whether he/she has such an item in possession. Additionally, I am not going to feel safe posting information about my own possessions, especially expensive ones, in case the info falls into the wrong hands.

And with a service like Amazon already in existence (and already having so much data on customers' possessions in order to suggest items to sell them), I don't see how users would find a need to go to Google Mine.
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