For some, though, clicking delete feels a bit like erasing an old diary.
That’s how Faiqa Khan felt when she parsed her history in December. On Aiming Low, she wrote about a day’s worth of searches that included “James Dean,” “How to become famous on the internet,” “Jim Morrison,” “What does a sociologist do?” and “shower.”
“Googling is the adult version of ‘Mommy, why is the sky blue?’” she wrote. “This means that if Google is my ‘mommy,’ then I am the most annoying child on the planet.”
Sarah Pavis reported on her blog that her all-time top 10 searches are “pretty idiotic,” listing weather, restaurants, Trader Joe’s, and her own name.
And then there’s the artist Catherine Ramus, who goes by Albertine Meunier on YouTube, where she’s posted her entire Google search history since 2006, slideshow style.
In an artist statement, she writes: “Displayed as an inventory, my searches show a full self-portrait. Like a big souvenir movie, this video can refresh the small things I was looking for at specific moments. Beyond this autoportrait feature, this project highlights privacy concerns on Internet and more particularly privacy concerns on personal data and Google.”
Before you clear your history — did you find anything surprising in there? I would start with mine, but when I went to check it, I realized I had never enabled Google to track my history. If I had to guess, this month’s history would be filled with a lot of internet memes, planning for an upcoming trip to Miami, and hypochondriac-fueled searching for flu symptoms.