“The overwhelming volume of this information demonstrates just how deep, and inescapable, our relationships with the company have become. And it can be sneakily transformative. To see months of your own search history repeated back to you in list form is to suffer a strange mixture of your most mundane and anxious—and largely forgotten—moments….
“We’re often aware that Google is logging our whereabouts. Google Search, for example, helps us find all sorts of things, and it uses our location to try to supply more relevant information (by guessing the language we speak, for starters). Obviously Google Maps gives us particulars about where we are and where we’re going. The more creative, indirect ways in which Google employs our location data can be noticeably helpful, too, or at least technically impressive. (Yes, Google, good guess. That is the restaurant I went to — but I would not like to review it, thanks.) More often, however, the details of place and movement are being processed in the background, where that information is recorded because it can be, and made available to tools we largely take for granted. These tools are good at showing us what Google wants, as well at what it thinks it knows. It is something else to see what Google has…When you stare down from on high at the last few years of your life — as recorded by your laptop and phone, and then self-subpoenaed from your Google account — your first impulse is forensic. And whether you assume the role of defense, prosecution, judge or juror, you’ll have plenty to work with. If you fully opt in to certain Google products (in my case, various Google apps on an iPhone, including Google Maps), years of location history will be rendered as glowing circles, shaded from violet to green to yellow to red and overlaid on a map of the world. To explore this data is to toggle, in seconds, among wildly disparate emotional states: surprise, disorientation, curiosity, disappointment…”