(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

A9 knows me!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Reading the NYTimes today I was amazed to hear that Amazon was launching what is being called a search engine, but what is really a hybrid between a search engine, an organiser and a personal blog. A9, was launched today; the NYTimes details:
Amazon.com, the e-commerce giant, plans to take aim at the Internet search king Google with an advanced technology that the company says will take searches beyond mere retrieval of Web pages to let users more fully manage the information they find. A9.com, a start-up owned by Amazon, said in a briefing here on Tuesday that it planned to make the new version of its search service, named A9.com, available Tuesday evening. The service will offer users the ability to store and edit bookmarks on an A9.com central server computer, keep track of each link clicked on previous visits to a Web page, and even make personal "diary" notes on those pages for viewing on subsequent visits. "In a sense, this is a search engine with memory," said Udi Manber, a computer scientist who was a pioneer in online information retrieval and worked at Yahoo before moving to Amazon two years ago. Mr. Manber created the original A9 search service, which is based in part on search results from Google. He also led the development of Amazon's "search inside the book" project, which lets visitors to the Amazon.com and A9.com Web sites search the complete contents of more than 100,000 books the company has digitally scanned.
Now, anyone who has repeatedly used Amazon will know that their data-tracking and predictive algorithms are amazing. The suggestions for which books I might like to buy next are uncannily accurate (I often turn up to buy a book and see it on my 'recommendations' list), so with that level of technological expertise, A9 should be able to search and store in pretty amazing ways. However, given that privacy was raised around Google's GMail storing information, those worried about privacy might find this screenshot from my first A9 visit interesting:

[Click to enlarge]
A9 already knows who I am! Obviously A9 is built to use and accesses the same cookies and thus accesses the Amazon database on "Tama Leaver". Given I've never even heard of A9 before, this is bound to raise some privacy concerns about the extensive information Amazon already has about me. Do I really want my search habits linked to my purchasing habits so explicitly? Also of interest, doing a vanity Google and a vanity A9 produces remarkably similar results with supposedly different engines, so unlike Microsoft's attempts at a search engine, A9 might just Google competition!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home