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Google’s screenwise asks “How do the little people search?”

Google is an interesting company. It seems like they have little sense of what each of its various parts are up to at any given moment. Maybe that’s why Larry Page has come in and tried so hard to get a unified Google in front of everyone. I do like those neat commercials with all the Google product and services logos swirling around–well, uh, they are swirling around the Chrome logo, which I don’t really get, but let’s not quibble.

So, hot on the heels of the SPYW (Search Plus Your World) incident which created such a stir amongst the Internet industry glitteratti and all of those “privileged” enough to consider themselves on the inside of the industry, Google rolls out a rather curious project called Screenwise.

In a nutshell, Google is trying to discover just how the “simple folk” uses search. They can explain it better from their website.

Google is building a new panel to learn more about how everyday people use the Internet.

The new project is called Screenwise. As a panelist, you’ll add a browser extension that will share with Google the sites you visit and how you use them. What we learn from you, and others like you, will help us improve Google products and services and make a better online experience for everyone.

What’s in it for you? Up to $25 in gift cards. Our panel management partner, Knowledge Networks, will give you a $5 Gift Card code instantly when you sign up and download the Google Screenwise browser extension.1 Then you’ll get additional $5 Gift Card codes every three months for staying with it.2 It’s our way of saying “Thank you.”

To be eligible to join, you must be 13 or older, have a Google Account (or sign up for one), and be ready to use the Google Chrome browser.

Apparently the response was so strong by the “everyday user” who really wanted that Amazon gift card really wanted to help Google get better that they had to shut the door on more interested folks.

Here’s the problem. Based on the coverage from the Internet industry media and even the likes of The Huffington Post who, in fine exploitative Internet headline fashion, chose to frame this as a Google pays people to give up privacy matter, rather than a sincere attempt to get to know the regular Internet guy or gal better play, it’s VERY unlikely that any everyday folks got a chance to sign up for the project.

I bet that of the people that signed up for this thing are mostly Internet savvy tech industry followers who like the idea of maxing out the $25 in Amazon gift cards offer from Google just because they can. Do you really think that someone who lives in say, Omaha, NE, and has a regular job and goes home to that awful everyman’s existence of a home, wife and, yuck!, kids ever even knew this opportunity existed? I sincerely doubt it.

So what does this mean? It means that if Google goes through with this study it will be likely that their impression of the everyman of the Internet looks much like the Internet industry insider thus accomplishing absolutely nothing in the process.

If they really want to know about the everyman of Internet use they can just check out this profile that I scientifically* put together.

  • Is a worker bee in some company be it large or small
  • Is struggling to make ends meet
  • Gets online after taking care of everyman-type mundane tasks like feeding kids, getting them to practice, putting them to bed etc etc and wouldn’t know if their search results are personalized anymore than they know what an IP address is
  • Doesn’t care about their privacy as long as they get the information they need from the search engine
  • Only pays attention to privacy if they see something on or in the news to remind them or if something has already gone wrong
  • Spends a fair amount of time on Facebook so they obviously don’t think anything of online privacy at all
  • Answers the question of whether they are on Google+ or not with the classic “What’s that?”
  • Will not have a chance at getting in on the Facebook IPO or will never be able to afford the overpriced shares that will leave the holding the bag eventually
  • Thinks SPYW is something to do with the CIA or FBI
  • Surprised that personalization of search has been around for quite some time
  • Never considers doing any advanced searches on Google. In fact, wouldn’t know where that option exists
  • There’s more but you get the point

* By scientifically, I mean using my own science and my own ways to prove my point regardless of whether there is any truth in it. This is otherwise known as market research ;-).

There. I just saved Google a lot of time and effort and really bad research results.

I feel good. Now I have to go help put the kids to bed.

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