Not a surprise… But even so…

Jan 10, 2020 | 0 comments

This morning’s email brought a “Google Maps Timeline.”  Sydney, it said, here is your 2019 Timeline update.  You’re receiving this email bccause you turned on Location History, a Google Account-level setting that saves where you go in your private Timeline.  Location history data also gives you personalized information on Google, including better restaurant recommendations and suggestions for a faster commute.  You can review, edit, and delete this data anytime in Timeline.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” thought I as I read.  “My private Timeline?  Depends what you mean by ‘private.’  That only I can see it on my computer — probably.  That I can ‘review, edit, and delete this data’ — yeah from my computer screen.  But it’s out there, you betcha.  I’ve known that for a very long time.  And having just read Edward Snowden’s book, Permanent Record, I’m even more aware of the fact that “privacy” is not a concept compatible with the internet, cyberspace, or any of the other things I don’t understand with regard to the magic of mathematics and electronics.

Edward Snowden

What I do think I understand is that some (not all) of the big guys like Google are now attempting to give us the illusion of privacy by increasing their “transparency.”  I wish I could call Mr. Snowden and get his take on this morning message of mine.

Having said all that, though, I’m pretty interested in the content of this timeline.  With the first click of my keyboard I learned that I made 57 trips in January 2019, the  first being January 8 to Seattle and the second on January 9th to Vancouver.  Checking this against the recently replaced 2019 calendar on our refrigerator, I see that Nyel had doctor appointments both those days — Seattle on the 8th, (check!) and Vancouver on the 9th (check!).  Further details about each trip include mileage, driving time, stops (Safeway, Starbucks) etc.  Even trips into Ocean Park to Jack’s Country Store or the bank are recorded.  And any photos you took that day with your cell phone!

It’s pretty interesting, actually, and since the data is being collected “out there” whether I want it to be or not, I might as well enjoy a little trip down memory lane now and then.  As I see it, I can now check up on my own personal “This Day in History.”  Woot! Woot!



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