Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Google Will Help Us Watch Our Google Selves With a Monthly Activity Summary

Last month you may have seen a widely read tutorial about how to delete your personal Google history before the company’s new privacy policy took effect. For me at least, that triggered the first time I’d looked at my own personal search history, probably ever.

Today, Google is introducing an optional monthly email and personal “Account Activity” dashboard that should keep us a little more up-to-date with our Google selves on a regular basis. The feature summarizes usage trends from each of its user’s accounts on various Google products like Gmail, search and Latitude.

I’ve criticized Google for not doing more to explain and justify to users why they would want a unified Google account. Quantifying and visualizing user activity is a small step toward that. Two similar existing products are the Google Dashboard and ad preferences manager. None of the three products seems to be at all social or shareable or integrated with Google+.

A Google spokeswoman, who described Account Activity as “still pretty basic,” said the feature is now being rolled out globally to all Google Account users.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik