I cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it is to be mindful of Google's watchful eye online. It is literally everywhere, and it does not forget. Everything you do under Google's watchful eye impacts your personal brand and reputation. That drunken Twitter late at night? Google remembers. That blog rant composed at a conference? Google stores it forever. Here are just a few of the ways Google is watching you.
- Google searches, indexes, and stores copies of every public web page, public forum, public discussion board, public email list it can find.
- Google Orion monitors not just what you search for, but how you behave when you search, how long it takes you to locate things, and what you do when you find something.
- Google News stores all of the news it can find in newspapers, radio, and television.
- Google Alerts constantly scans news, blogs, and other items for selected key words that you, your friends, and your enemies deem important.
- Google Feedburner stores all of the RSS feeds and other news feeds it can find - and who subscribes to them.
- Google Reader tracks and stores all of the blogs you subscribe to and what items you deem important enough to share.
- Google Maps provides geographic data and in return tracks exactly what you're looking for and where on the earth it is.
- Google Blog Search stores and remembers what you blog about on your personal blog.
- Google AdWords watches what ads it shows and what ads you click on, how often, and when.
- Google 411 stores how you pronounce words and uses its speech recognition to analyze non-text data.
- Google YouTube tracks what videos you watch, share, promote, and enjoy.
- Google Talk stores and searches what you discuss in instant messaging.
- Google Desktop indexes and stores information about everything on your computer.
- Google Transit watches where you go and how you get there.
- Google Trends displays how information is monitored by end users over time.
- Google Docs takes your office documents and indexes them and their contents.
- Google personalized search stores every single question you ask Google, what answers you found important, and trends in your inquiries.
- Google Pagerank algorithm tracks who links to web pages of yours and who you link to, diagramming out important nodes.
- Google Android will bring these capabilities and monitoring powers to your phone.
- Google OpenSocial will bring these capabilities to social networks like MySpace and Facebook.
Mindfulness is absolutely imperative in the age of Google. Write, discuss, and share like the person you want to become, even if you aren't that person today, because Google will remember you based on what you publicly create online. For forum moderators, mailing list managers, and community developers like myself, it is our obligation to create, manage, and moderate forums to be perceived by the general public in alignment with who we want to be, even if we as a community aren't there just yet.
Remember this quote from Mitch Joel: Your personal brand isn't what you say it is. Your personal brand is what Google says it is.
One good blog post lifts the entire community up in reputation, if only a little in Google's massive knowledgebase. One bad post drags us all down. Everything matters - big or small.
We are now, more than ever, interdependent on each other.
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