Alex Wright

The database of intentions

January 12, 2004

Just stumbled across John Battelle's new Searchblog, in which the former Wired and Industry Standard honcho expounds on the search wars, and pre-hypes his book-in-progress, tentatively entitled The Search: Business and Culture in the Age of Google - complete with a snappy book jacket-ready catchphrase, "The Database of Intentions":

The Database of Intentions is simply this: The aggregate results of every search ever entered, every result list ever tendered, and every path taken as a result. It lives in many places, but three or four places in particular hold a massive amount of this data (ie MSN, Google, and Yahoo). This information represents, in aggregate form, a place holder for the intentions of humankind - a massive database of desires, needs, wants, and likes that can be discovered, supoenaed, archived, tracked, and exploited to all sorts of ends. Such a beast has never before existed in the history of culture, but is almost guaranteed to grow exponentially from this day forward. This artifact can tell us extraordinary things about who we are and what we want as a culture. And it has the potential to be abused in equally extraordinary fashion. from: John Battelle, The Database of Intentions

File under: User Experience

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