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Is it privacy or economics?

One of the most intriguing stories about the Internet isn't how much wealth it's created, but rather its impact on society. 

Each day, it seems, we spend more time on the Internet. We search more, share more, participate more and voice our opinions more. We've probably all become aware of how self-absorbed we are and/or how different we are from others, and we're proud of it.
But is there more about ourselves that we don't know? More that the data we leave behind may reveal?

"The Internet has changed everything," said Schmidt, who held a small session Wednesday with a couple dozen journalists after he was interviewed on stage by search guru Danny Sullivan at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose, Calif.  Schmidt went on to describe how the Internet has obviously improved access to information and the empowerment it's given many, including the press, to gather that knowledge. But the "development to me that's most interesting is the social networks as online lifestyles. That's a really new phenomenon," he said. It's a phenomenon on scale with the rapid-fire adoption of instant messaging, he added. "It's [social networks] a big deal."  Indeed, his words are backed by his actions. On Monday, Google announced that it is paying $900 million to be the exclusive search engine of MySpace along with News Corp's other Net properties. What fascinates me about this deal is the potential to take search history data and marry it with personal data, such as what we like and dislike, who we like and dislike, and basically what makes us tick.  "We do not link," said Schmidt, adamantly. "We try to do things with user permission," he added.
Sure, there may be some privacy issues. But is that all? After all, we've become such a transparent society with high expectations about service (and that means better targeted ads).
Maybe I should have asked him, could Google make more money by using search history to serve up display ads on its partner sites?  Based on a simple analysis and example, it appears that perhaps the incremental benefit of using search history for targeted ads may not be worth it. For that analysis, you'll have to read my column. 

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