If information is power, then Google is master of the universe.
Any attorney who has a website, blog or is trying in other ways to promote themselves online knows this all too well. We never go very long without thinking of the search engine giant, we watch for subtle changes in its mood, and we make minute, arcane changes to our sites and entries in (mostly) vain attempts to please it.
Now, like the information overlord that it is, Google has come up with a way to use its enormous influence to make its subjects feel more in control of their own destinies - while simultaneously increasing its power over them.
Ingenious. Google has announced that it is starting to allow people to create profiles with information that Google will consider when deciding how to index them. This information includes names, cities people have lived in, schools they have attended, and links to personal websites, photo galleries, etc. Google is beginning to include results this profile information in its search results, which gives people an incentive to go and add information in the hopes of influencing Google search results for their name.
Ingenious, yes. But are we ingenuous for giving Google more of our personal information? Google already controls a great deal of how the world finds out information about us, is giving them even more information really the answer to the question of online identity management? Or does it just further cement Google's dominion over online data?
And will the new information even make a difference? Google plans to put the profile results at the bottom of the search results page, meaning that the first thing a searcher sees will remain unchanged. If the initial results for a search about a person aren't positive, the profile result won't tend to improve first impressions much sitting all the way down at the bottom of the page.
Regardless of these concerns, however, Google Profiles does seem like it could give attorneys - especially those who already blog, use Twitter, or have a Facebook or LinkedIn page - an additional tool that will centralize data about them and make it more accessible to people who are running searches about them.
See Also: Now You Can Change What Google Says About You (ReadWriteWeb) Google Wants You to Profile Yourself (Wired)