Google profiles and online self-ownership

You may also like...

5 Responses

  1. I’m mildly skeptical of the Profiles, but perhaps I shouldn’t be, They sure do look a lot like Frank’s idea of adding an asterisk to search results on one’s name.

  2. Kaimi says:

    It does, doesn’t it? I was thinking of Frank’s discussion when I saw the Google article. (I spaced out and didn’t actually link Frank at 2 a.m. when I wrote the post; I just fixed that with an update.)

  3. Kaimi says:

    Among other reactions, Time magazine is also slightly skeptical and views this move as Google’s foray into the Facebook market:,8599,1893965,00.html

  4. Danielle Citron says:


    Thanks for writing this terrific post. I share your (and James’s) interest in the possibilities, especially in light of Frank’s creative proposals. It is Janus-faced of course: on the one hand, it is a terrific tool for self-marketing, a way to deflect the mob’s ability to ruin your reputation if indeed potential employers and friends look at your Google profile as a truer picture of you, or at least one which you approve and get a chance to reply to erroneous accusations (it seems really interesting give my recent personal experience) and on the other, we can see Google caching our information and using it for behavioral marketing and in perhaps more privacy busting ways as Cory Doctorow imagines in Scroogled.

    This really got me thinking. So thanks!


  5. Frank says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Kaimi! It is a truly fascinating development. I applaud Google for making it available.

    One interesting question is whether these types of profiles will become ubiquitous. For example, Avvo aims to rate all licensed attorneys within the states it covers. Avvo creates blank profiles on the site, then updates the profiles and lets attorneys update them, too, if they “claim” their own profile.

    The right to “claim” the profile is a classic example of Web 2.0 business models. Attorneys listed on the site ignore the profile at their peril, and those critical of Avvo’s project are put in a double-bind by the profile’s very existence. To the extent they tell “their side of the story” on the profile, they are feeding data to Avvo and building its reliability. The aggregator acts like Tom Sawyer, inviting others to “paint the fence” by adding to the store of data that increases its authority and comprehensiveness.

    In the end, I worry about the proliferation of involuntary profiles online (consider current pressures to be on Facebook, Twitter, …. what’s next?!). But since Google’s program is voluntary, and since it is so central/dominant in the web’s ecology, I’m glad they’re doing this.